Artist drawn to St Bathans


St Bathans has called Pauline Bellamy back every year since 1972.

The Macandrew Bay artist and painter was on hand at her mudbrick property — originally the Vulcan Hotel billiards saloon and stables — to impart her print making knowledge to all comers on day one of the St Bathans Rhythm and Gold Festival.

She converted the building into a family home, workplace, studio and gallery in 1974.
‘‘It’s got a really special atmosphere.’’

That atmosphere was something that hung over the entire sleepy settlement and the festival was an opportunity to imagine how much St Bathans hummed in its gold rush heyday and was apparent at the annual St Bathans Fete on Sunday, which acts as the finale to the two-day event.

The festival, which celebrates St Bathans’ goldmining heritage, typically causes the township’s static population of eight to swell to 500 and this year proved no different, despite a dearth of international tourists due to Covid-19 border closures.

St Bathans Community Association secretary Helena Raymond said while the Vulcan Hotel was undoubtedly St Bathans’ biggest drawcard, the festival was also an opportunity to show it was more than ‘‘just a pub and a ghost’’.

Support for Rhythm and Gold had come from various sponsors and she made special mention of Central Sound Hire and BDL productions, who made headline act DJ Benthamism’s set on Saturday a success.

Volunteers had also come from far and wide, some having come to St Bathans fresh from stints at Rhythm and Vines near Wanaka, Ms Raymond said.

Workshops included stonemasonry, demonstrations from Mrs Bellamy, mosaicing, rag rug making and gold panning.

She said overall, the event was a success.

‘‘We’ve had really good feedback from the public and we had no problems.’’

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