I remember as a child trotting around after my mother asking her “What can I make? I feel like making something…”. Always searching for the satisfaction from creating something: I sewed, made a lot of little stuffed animals, cushions, knitwear, and I did Art. I graduated from Otago Polytechnic School of Fine Arts in 1985 and soon after went to Teachers College. I taught Art for 15 years, and while I loved this job I always wanted to do my own work. Often in the classroom, I would have to quiet a growing urge to clear the room of students and just do the work myself!! During this time I would paint in the holidays, but just for myself and family, and occasionally I entered into a few group shows.
When I left teaching to have children I devoted afternoon sleep time to painting. I used oils and painted realistic depictions of domesticity in an unreal space. I started to sell my work during this time in galleries in Wellington, Auckland and Hawkes Bay. When my youngest went to kindy I took the oils out again and began my foray into abstract art. This was relatively short-lived though as I soon found myself back teaching part-time with two children at school and no time for painting.
Recently my parents have passed which has brought me sharply eye to eye with the brevity of life. In the past two years, I have thrown myself wholeheartedly into my painting again. For a year I explored painting intuitively, just responding to what showed up on the canvas as I played with materials and ideas. I found this incredibly difficult but also exhilarating as marks, surface effects, combinations of materials would surprise and result in work that referenced ideas and thoughts, that in no way could have been planned. I became more and more enchanted with the accidental mark.
I paint on wooden panels, digging into the surface and sanding back through layers to reveal all sorts of hidden surprises. I love elevating the mundane in my work – by incorporating collage elements I literally bring everyday throwaway detritus and call it Art. Some collage is hidden under many layers of paint to create lumps and bumps and history in the work which gives it a richness.
I don’t want my work to be literal. I want it to be interpreted by the viewer as they bring their perspective to it, and experience surprise by unpredictable combinations of the accidental and intentional; the laboured and freemarks, in paint and mixed media. When these combinations culminate in a rich balance that is satisfying and holds the viewer’s attention I feel the painting is complete.
My inspiration is really the wonder of life. There are so many analogies between the process of painting and life in general. Life is largely unplanned, you respond to what shows up along your path, it requires discipline, risk, and curiosity to search for your place and identity in the greater picture. All this is true in the process of painting also.
I live in rural Maungatapere, just out of Whangarei, New Zealand, with my partner Logan, my two children Ryan and Lucy, our dog, cat and three adorable goats.