Well yes it’s all been happening! As I posted earlier I’ve been involved in painting a mural on one of the new hotel rooms at QT Museum Hotel in Wellington. While in the creative throws we had a film crew from Seven Sharp visit and this aired on Seven Sharp on Friday 28th September.
Wow It’s been ages since the last post and this is why! I’ve been involved in this wonderful initiative at QT Museum Hotel Wellington. QT put out a call to artists to be involved in transforming their new suite of hotel rooms into works of art. Out of 260 artists who applied I along with 26 other artists were selected. 19 of us made our marks on the walls of the 24 individual suites while others were commissioned for pieces elsewhere in the hotel.
For this I’ve been painting a large scale work directly on the wall of the room based on the Grimm’s fairy tale ‘The Musicians of Bremen’. I’ve painted many of the Grimm’s tales before (see the Grimm’s Project) but this has been the largest by far. Here are some shots of work in progress, the rooms will be available to stay in from the 2nd November 2018 so if you are planning a trip to Wellington, NZ what a wonderful experience to stay amongst fabulous art!
A solo exhibition of works on paper and cotton veils ‘A Home Away from Home’ will be on show at Aratoi Museum of Art and History in Masterton, New Zealand, from Thursday 13 September – Sunday 7th October 2018.
In this final year of the centenary of WW1, this exhibition is a tribute to a group of New Zealand women who ran the Aotea Convalescent Home for NZ soldiers in Egypt during the First World War. Their service to the well being of the soldiers led the men to fondly refer to Aotea as ‘A home away from home’.
Mina Macdonald (pictured above) recognised the need for such a home and rallied the NZ Government to provide one. Within 6 weeks the staff who were to run the home had set sail for Egypt. The home was almost entirely funded by the goodwill of the people of the Wairarapa, Whanganui and Rangitikei regions. Click here for more information about this project.
– Going through that dark, insecure creative stage and like the Lorax picking yourself up by the tail and hightailing yourself out of there
I’m in the studio on a Sunday afternoon, the rain is falling steadily and I have my cup of tea in hand ready to take on whatever invites itself to dance with me. And writing a blog put up it’s hand first which I gladly take, because you see I felt I had an experience I wanted to share.
A few months ago I was in that dark place that will be familiar to many creatives, I’d had had a great year last year with my first international show and had so many engaging experiences through my artwork. This year was starting a little more lack luster and I was feeling I was putting my heart & soul into proposals that were being rejected left right and centre. I got to that place of why, what’s the point, perhaps it really isn’t worth still making art. But still I dragged my sorry behind into the studio and I’m there and I make marks and I spread paint around and I become engrossed in what I’m doing and then this little voice whispers in my ear “Rebecca what the hell?! This stuff feeds your soul, why would you deny yourself this experience (and man I wouldn’t want to live with you if your weren’t making creatively – just saying)“. So I decided at that moment that I needed to allow myself to just make, I had this opportunity to experiment in the studio with no expectation what so ever – I was ready to give myself permission to simply make art. I even wrote myself a proper proposal (just like I would to a gallery, museum or for funding) and within moments of sending that to myself I received a very charming acceptance letter back. ‘Go for it’ it said ‘knock yourself out and lets see where the journey takes you’. Boy was that the most awesome thing to do!
Just after giving myself permission, a friend and fellow artist put me on to The Jealous Curator (Danielle if you ever read this you’re awesome! Thanks for sharing, for talking to others, for being vulnerable and strong and human). So now most days when I’m in the studio Daniel (The Jealous Curator) joins me in my studio chatting with other artists and I’m talking back at the podcast saying things like “yep know how that feels”, “yes” “no way!” while I’m painting away. It becomes pretty clear after listening to a few of the podcasts what a shared experience these dark places are (and the joyful places too!). Then recently I discover ‘Big Magic – Creative living without fear’ by Elizabeth Gilbert and I laugh and nod and talk to her book as well (I really must get out more!) and find it so affirming.
So here I am, sitting in the studio on a rainy Sunday afternoon, surrounded by works in various states of finish, I have made since giving myself permission to (some I think are going to get a nice covering of think paint – they just ain’t rocking my boat – how exciting!) . They are all so different – different painterly expressions, different mark making, some narrative, some not. I am in a much better space to be making my art – what ever form it may take, and I am absolutely loving it! Don’t get me wrong I’ve always loved making art with all it’s ups and downs. But what I’m loving is this new found freedom to make without expectation – Which is why I am sharing, because I know we all have moments of self doubt, of questioning why we do it, but it really is up to ourselves to decide what place it holds in our lives and what we are willing to do to feed it – and of course giving ourselves permission to do so.
– So put your game face on and go forth!
It’s April and I’ve begun my 3 week residency at NZ Pacific Studios in Northern Wairarapa. My arts project is dedicated to the remarkable women who ran the Aotea Convalescent Home for New Zealand soldiers in Heliopolis, Egypt during WW1. It’s aim is also to honour the communities of Whanganui, Wairarapa and Rangitikei who supported the home. The project is called ‘A Home Away From Home‘ because that’s the term the soldiers affectionately gave it. You can read more extensive writing about the project here.
I stopped at the Clareville cemetery in Wairarapa on my way to the residency to pay my respects to Kate Booth a sister from Aotea. She is buried in the RSA area of the cemetery
Here I’ll post a few photos of work in progress as I begin to develop the individual paintings that will make up the body of work called ‘A Home Away From Home’
Friday 20th April update:
This week on my residency has been a great journey of discovery. Not only with experimenting with different media but also getting to know my nurses a little more and a remarkable connection between my grandfather and one of the soldiers connected to my Anzac bridge fellowship.
Gareth Winter at the Wairarapa Archives has been a great help, a wealth of knowledge! Together we shared what information we had and with his help I’d discovered one of my nurses (Who I now feel I’m getting to know slowly) Lina McLaren had come from the Wairarapa not Whanganui which I’d mistakenly connected her with somewhere along the way. She married a Major she’d met at Aotea called Allan Standish Wilder. Gareth had found a photo of her in the archives, he’s such a good detective!
Another rather surprising discovery this week has to do with the Kaiparoro Anzac Bridge (the Friends of the Bridge support my Anzac Artists Fellowship) I was looking into the service history of the men from WW1 who are memorialised on the bridge and to my surprise I discovered that Victor Falkner, who’s father built the bridge in honour of his son and the other local men who lost their lives, was in the Auckland Mounted Rifles just as my grandfather John (Jack) Culleton was. But not only that, they were both in the 4th Squadron! My grandfather having been wounded at Gallipoli the same month Victor was killed.
Fabulous news! I have been selected as the 2018 Anzac fellowship recipient which means I get to spend time at the fabulous NZ Pacific Studio artists residency. It’s a wonderful opportunity to work on a project that explores some of the roles NZ women took on during WW1. This is an extension of my Sand in the Apricot Jam project and is focused around the Aotea Convalescent Home in Egypt. This home was set up as it was recognised that the NZ soldiers needed somewhere to recuperate, a sort of home away from home to recover in. This was made possible by a group of women from Whanganui, NZ and was run my nurses and volunteers from the Whanganui & Wiarapapa regions. Also almost entirely funded by the fund raising efforts of the women from these regions.
I’m looking forward to making the most of this opportunity and to connect with the local community while doing so.