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Coromandel potter Alan Rhodes. Photo SUPPLIED

Escape to Mercury Bay for some art inspiration

The beloved Mercury Bay Art Escape is on again for 2023. During the first two weekends of March, artists of all kinds will be opening their studio doors to members of the public. 

There are 41 studios between Tairua and Matarangi, featuring mediums including paint, photography, wood carving, pottery, glass and sculpture, among others. 

Artists Alan and Julia Rhodes produce hand-thrown pots from clay sourced on their own Coromandel property. Their studio, featuring gas and salt kilns as well as a wood-fired pit kiln, is tucked into the Whenuakite bush. 

Mr Rhodes is also known as the co-founder of the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, which was inducted into the NZ country music Hall of Fame in 2015. 

“Music and pots – that’s me,” he said. 

Jeweller Meg Auth from Hahei. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Around the coast in Hahei, artist Meg Auth creates art jewellery from a variety of found objects, stones and gems. Her work is largely inspired by the sea, incorporating elements of sea life such as fish, kelp and shells, along with rock formations and sea patterns.  

“I am in love with nature and am happiest when in, on or near water,” she said. 

Ms Auth splits her time between Indiana, USA, and her tiny Hahei studio overlooking Mahurangi Island. Visitors to her studio can observe how she is both creative and mechanical when working with metals, saws, grinders and acids.

The Mercury Bay Art Escape is a chance for visitors to see artists at work in their own studios, chat and purchase artwork. 

Gala opening: Hot Waves Cafe, Hot Water Beach. 6pm, March 3. Tickets are $55, available from or the cafe. 

Showcase exhibition: Hot Waves cafe, Hot Water Beach. March 4 – April 11. 

Open Studios: Various locations. 10am-4pm on March 4, 5, 11 and 12. 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Journalism funded by NZ on Air