Bio:Mary-Beth Acres

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I am 27 year old from Rotorua, New Zealand. I am an artist and writer with a love for creative work that has a social purpose. I am currently employed managing a small non-profit community arts organisation called 'The Arts Village' (although currently I am midway through six months of sabbatical leave from my role). 

My home: Rotorua, is a little city in the middle of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Like many cities we have our challenges (homelessness, affordable housing, social divides, a struggling city centre - to name a few) but over the past few years the city has come a long way to meet challenges and be a place that we can feel staunchly proud to live in.

When I was a little girl I had this big dream of being the next John Pilger, Rachel Carson, or George Monbiot. These three are of course a short selection from a long list... but the work of each showed me different ways that our world can be illuminated through the power of purposeful language. My ambitions as a writer are to use my own love of words to share stories about community and change. 

As a visual artist I mostly work in marker, ink and watercolour. After exhibiting my first works in 2016 I recently completed an artist residency in Fukuoka, Japan with an organisation called Studio Kura. I also held my first solo show there entitled 'Dust' - comprised of a small series of colourfully illustrated works all exploring existential themes of birds and being.

I am currently on the road travelling, writing, researching and doodling as part of my project: Art + Sunshine.

About: Art + Sunshine

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The best thing about my 'day-job' is seeing the impact that art in our community has on the people involved; they make friends, they become less lonely, they try out new skills and feel more at home in the community.

Art + Sunshine is part-blog, part-research brought about my own questions about the links between a community that is creatively engaged and a community that is happy and healthy.

I am starting off with a six month trip through Japan, South Africa, the UK and the USA looking at some examples of what happens outside of my own community. I return home to New Zealand in August 2017 and I am really excited to continue this project into something that will help to make the case for including artists and the arts sector in core social services and community development projects. 

I am really excited about Art + Sunshine; the learning, the creating and meeting loads of amazing people!