I grew up on a dairy farm in the Far North. I’ve learnt alot from the life experiences to be had as a child growing up on a farm, being outside and amongst it all. I learnt about fixing things ‘number 8 wire’ style (but also perfection and paying attention to the fine details) from Dad and my Mum taught me many things about sewing and homemade style craft. I followed my love for art and craft all through secondary school. While I never actually did study Art as a subject my favourite subjects were the hands on variety, including Metal and Woodwork Technology classes, Photography, and Graphics Tech Drawing. I graduated from Unitec in 2006 with a Bachelor in 3 Dimensional Design, wanting to solely commit to the design and manufacture of my own handmade furniture. I consider myself a mostly self-taught artist, especially in the area of work I am currently focusing on, and techniques have all being learnt through and developed from experimentation and lots of practice.
I made a long distance move to the Goldfields of Western Australia for work and stayed there for 4 years where I also met my future husband, a local from Oamaru. While working in the small mining town of Kalgoorlie I picked up where I left from at school with Graphite and Ink Pen style drawings in my spare time. It became an escape from the extremely hot desert environment. Using those simple mediums in such an isolated place I found I could carry on making my art because it was so basic and portable, where all I required was a few pencils and my sketch book. I spent a lot of time researching at the local library and it was there I discovered an amazing book on colourful bright watercolour techniques. I started experimenting with this medium and found it worked in well with my drawings as well as making them pop up another level. It’s a really versatile medium and because of the translucent properties I can create intense and vibrant colour and depth layer by layer.
I now live in rural North Otago with my own little family where I have my very own cottage style studio and workshop. Historic Oamaru, Waitaki Valley and the Otago Coast is a very diverse environment where so many unique aspects of this region provide an abundance of inspiration. This part of New Zealand is very different to the thick native bush and scrub from the Far North. It’s given me a different kind of appreciation, understanding and respect for the conservation of our unique flora and fauna from all parts of New Zealand.
I find the work of Burns Pollock and Graham Percy inspiring and enjoy their twist of imagination on realism. I find the bold clean colours, lines and textures in their work very interesting. I can relate to these artists as I also like to exaggerate colours, textures, highlights and shadows giving a realistic drawing some sort of surreal element.
As an artist my turning point was in 2013 when I exhibited a collection of work at Oamaru’s Forrester Gallery titled ‘WOMEN’ which reflected upon the unique character of creative individuals that I have an admiration and respect for as a female artist. The portraits were the result of my ambition to capture and celebrate the knowledge and skill these people have – a taxidermist, a wool spinner and a performer. The portrait of my mother at her spinning wheel, titled “Sharryn” went on to win the North Otago Art prize. With this I gained a lot more confidence in my ability and capability of creating art other people might enjoy.
Art is a pretty important part of who I am. I feel that I can incorporate the values that I hold true in life to my work. To be creative, practical, resourceful, and constructive gives me a sense of accomplishment and achievement. It is a challenge of to bring realistic life and dimension to a flat piece of paper rather than using computer generated programs. Photography has also become an interesting and complex tool which allows me to learn and explore composition, lighting and angles to portray subjects in a more real life and up close format. The Parkin Drawing Prize is a great opportunity and challenge for me get my work out to a wider audience and amongst the talents of my peers.