Macarthy funding allows art studio to roar

Macarthy funding allows art studio to roar

A beautiful artwork can lift your spirits, fire your imagination, make you cry. It can help you understand others and change the way you see your life. Sometimes it can save your life.

This is especially true of Pablos Art Studio. The space allows people with an experience of mental illness to learn art techniques from professional artists. Studio space, materials and tuition are all provided free of charge.


Community support for the studio is essential, including financial support, and charitable trusts can really make a difference. The Thomas George Macarthy Trust, established from the estate of an early Wellington entrepreneur, has supported Pablos for the last 17 years.


Pablos Director Gaelen Macdonald says the studio offers people the opportunity to develop an arts practice while they build confidence, gain social skills, and venture out into the community. Through the shared interest of art, Pablos supports an often marginalised part of the community. A few of its artists have credited the studio with saving their lives.

“Families appreciate knowing that there’s somewhere meaningful and safe for their family member to be, and to see their self esteem grow.”

Jean visits Pablos almost every day. She says art has given her a purpose and there’s always someone keen to help her develop her art skills.

“This is pretty much the only place I can get the support I need,” she says. “It’s sad, but true. This is my way of survival, I suppose. It helps to keep my mind off issues – a lot.”

Established in 1993 following the closure of long stay mental health wards in hospitals, for a long time, Pablos sat largely under the radar. It was harder to find – tucked away in a corner of the city, nice and quiet.

Not so anymore. Today, Pablos occupies a prominent corner on one of Wellington city’s busiest intersections. The studio and its community of up to 140 artists are a vital part of the community. Its gallery name speaks volumes: ROAR!


Such a central and visible location comes at a cost. Gaelen says that operational funding received from the Thomas George Macarthy Trust over the last 17 years has enabled Pablos to sit in the city’s arts quarter alongside other creatives and galleries.

“Without the Thomas George Macarthy Trust, we would not be able to be in central Wellington, which is a huge kudos for us. We are very lucky to receive funding from the Macarthy Trust.”

Nick Mitchell, another of the artists that visit Pablos every week, agrees.

“It’s good for people to have the facility here, that they have got that place to go; it’s great to have the funding for something like that.”

Creating artwork is important to Nick.

“Art is what I do, it’s what I am best at really. I couldn’t imagine doing something else."



The Thomas George Macarthy Trust commemorates its centennial year in 2012. Almost $60 million has been distributed to thousands of community organisations, including Age Concern Wellington, across the lower North Island.

Public Trust is responsible for administering the Thomas George Macarthy Trust through an approach that ensures that the Trust is safeguarded and grown to benefit past, current and future generations of the community.