New Zealand Arts Country

Travellers with a true passion for art will look beyond the beaten track to find New Zealand’s best-kept secrets.

In Mid Canterbury, they will find the heart of this creative scene starts with the Ashburton Society of Arts (Inc), founded in 1964.The aim of this unique organisation is to promote the study, practice and cultivation of the visual arts and to encourage the production of works of art.  The Society is characterised by loyal membership and community spirit.

In 1980, local fundraising helped the group establish a gallery at 53 Short Street in Ashburton – aptly named “Short Street Studio.”

In 2010, the building was extended to increase the workshop area.

The commitment and creativity of members has helped to make the Short Street Studio a welcoming place to call home. Art groups meet weekly, workshops are held, members hold exhibitions, tutors hire the rooms for weekly classes, and visitors enjoy browsing through the library collection.

The Society even has a rugby connection – perhaps not surprising given Canterbury’s special connections with the sport. One of the Society patrons (1971-1996) was Austen Deans, a fourth generation of Canterbury’s pioneering Deans family (famous in footy circles). Austen was an official World War II artist until captured. He was a well-known painter of Canterbury scenes and an enthusiastic member from its inception, being made a Life Member of the Society in 1997. Sadly he passed away on 18 October 2011, aged 95 years.

Ashburton Society of Arts caters for all people interested in art, be they total beginners, occasional painters, experienced artists or merely “spectators.”

For more information please contact ashburtonsociety.arts@gmail.comor visit

There are so many ways to Experience Mid Canterbury - fantastic places to stay and people to meet.

It’s easy to book accommodationand plan your visit – find Mid Canterbury visitor information here.


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