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Jessie McCaw


Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust

The organisation is run by a core group of experienced and successful member-artists who report regularly to the Trustees. The Trustees are artists and community volunteers with organisational, financial and business experience. We operate on a collaborative basis and encourage ideas, input and involvement from all member artists.Our core group has a broad range of skills and offers guidance, advice and mentoring to the wider group.

Our Mission

"To promote and develop the growth of the visual arts in the Mercury Bay area in particular, and the wider Coromandel Peninsula in general"

We work diligently to promote awareness of the richness, quality and eclectic character of the Coromandel Peninsula's Mercury Bay area art scene through developing our vision by:

+ Creating a dynamic, vibrant and quality art tour and local exhibitions

+ Successfully promoting our art talent through events in the wider New Zealand Community

+ Showcasing new, diverse and innovative emerging artists

+ Working closely with organisations to enhance development of art tourism activity

+ Rapidly growing the contribution of art to the success of the region and visitors' enjoyment

Our History

In 2006, the ideas and initiative of local artists Betty Collings and Dave Fowell established the highly successful Mercury Bay Cultural Weekend, featuring 20 Open Art Studios. This showcasing of Mercury Bay’s outstanding artistic and cultural diversity for both local residents and the greater New Zealand art community rapidly evolved into a regular and wider event.


Renamed the Mercury Bay Art Escape in 2008, Art Escape featured a single weekend Open Studio Tour. The website was launched and with regular upgrades quickly became a much viewed, year round exhibition space for Mercury Bay artists.

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A major milestone in 2011 was the formation of The Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust (MBAET) to formally recognise the increasing status and professionalism of the event. In 2012 the Trustees’ decision to recognise the growth of the Art Tour and artists’ expectations saw the Open Studio Tour confirmed as an annual event and in 2013 the first professional curator and administrator was appointed.


The Trust gained its first Community and Local Government Grant before the 2011 Studio Tour, enabling it to expand and cover two weekends with more artists and events than ever before. The number of visitors continues to increase with each Tour, with 2015 being the most successful ever with a record number of participating artists, studio visits, sales and an increase in visitors from outside the Coromandel region.


In November 2013 the first annual MBAET Student Scholarships were announced in conjunction with Mercury Bay Area School.

We get tremendous generosity and support from our community leaders, sponsors and volunteers and  expect the Mercury Bay Art Escape to continue to grow and be an outstanding experience for all our visitors and artists alike.

Our Trustees

Our Trustees
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Our Patrons

We are privileged to have the joint patronage of two of New Zealand’s preeminent figures in the arts world, Michael Smither and Fatu Feu'u.


Michael Smither, CNZM is one of New Zealand’s most famous contemporary artists. Otama resident and foundation member of the Mercury Bay Art Escape Michael was appointed the Art Escape’s first ‘Patron Artist’ in 2015 in recognition both of his standing as a New Zealand artist, but more importantly the contribution he makes to all of the arts in our region because of his stature and support for the Art Escape and it’s member artists.

Fatu Feu’u ONZM, renowned Samoan artist, grew up in the village of Putasi in Western Samoa, emigrating to New Zealand in 1966 and now lives on the Thames Coast. Exhibiting since the 1980s, he has been recognised nationally and internationally for his work. He is acknowledged as both a leader and mentor within the Pacific arts movement and the wider Polynesian community. In November 2022 he was one of 3 recipients of  the Arts Foundation’s highest honour The Arts Foundation Icon Award, Whakamana Hiranga, a title given to a living circle of just 20 creatives at one time, for their extraordinary lifetime achievements and mark on the arts.


Our Sponsors

Many thanks to the generosity and support of our business sponsors and partners.

Art Escape is very grateful for the generous support we receive from organisations and local businesses. Please support these contributors when you can. 

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Our Supporters

Hot Waves Café |  FLOX | Sharon O’Brien, The Wharf Gallery Raglan | Marion Manson | Kaizen Go Vino
Coastal Signs | Lion Company | Booster Chartered Accountants Ltd | Angie LC Photography | Wildflowers Coromandel

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