Grainstore Gallery

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Galleries and museum key icon.

Monday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Tuesday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Wednesday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Thursday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Friday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Saturday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Sunday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

9 Harbour Street, South Hill, Oamaru

027 366 6201

Climb the stairs at 5 Harbour Street and find yourself in what can only be described as an emporium. Local artist Donna Demente studied art in the big smoke, Auckland, but after twenty-five years, Ōamaru is her home and Grainstore Gallery, her creative world. 

While many visitors expect to find a tiny attic here, Grainstore Gallery’s whimsical environment will swallow you right up. It’s huge, for one, but contains within it a host of smaller vignettes, displays and corners to explore. Wander along, and you’ll soon meet Donna’s larger-than-life paper mache sculptures of Queen Victoria and other famous women. Their scale suits the space, and they’re all handmade and painted by the artist herself.

Donna’s paintings and detailed masks also hang throughout the space and reflect her interest in theatre and the power of the ‘gaze’ throughout history. Amidst all of her larger pieces are bits of ephemera that inspire and inform her process; antiques, taxidermy, other artists’ work- a massive collection of found objects. It would take hours to explore it all, but that’s part of this spot’s appeal. Time seems to stop in this magical space.

As Grainstore Gallery also doubles as her functional studio space, Donna is usually around to answer questions, so feel free to strike up a chat. Art nerds will gather that she’s most interested in the work of the pre-Raphaelites, but she also loves to let ‘humour pervade, to investigate everything and to always take the mickey a bit, too.”

Even the building itself has a story here. It was used for grain storage for many years and then was home to the local paper for nearly seven decades. Now it’s the perfect home for Donna’s work, a world all its own and sometimes host to live music gigs, too (check Grainstore’s Facebook page to follow along). Grainstore Gallery is Donna’s ‘collection, salon, studio and museum’ – hard to capture in words or photographs, it’s something you just have to see for yourself.

Words by Olivia Sisson & Photography by Nancy Zhou

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9 Harbour Street, South Hill, Oamaru

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