Having an awareness of the natural world has always been important to me. As a teenager I could stand at the beach for an unlimited amount of time admiring the changeability of the colours, the shapes in the waves and clouds and the feeling of depth as I gazed out at the horizon. I spent much of my teenage years trying to capture this in watercolours, later in murals around the city and acrylics on canvas.
It’s only recently that I’ve found my Turangawaewae, (my place to stand). The place that gives me more energy than I put in. Looking back it’s blaringly obvious that this is where my journey would lead me. From an early age I knew without a doubt that I would be an artist. I also knew that I felt at home in the outdoors and that the thought of adventure made me shiver with excitement and anticipation.
And so after school my world was filled with adventure and travel. I spent years overseas exploring the world, working in strange jobs in obscure locations. My painting took a back seat during this period but was never forgotten. I found that nowhere, not even Rome, the French Alps or the Whitsundays inspired me to paint in the way that New Zealand does. Seeing something of the world has given me a greater understanding of how lucky we are to be of this land. Once I returned to New Zealand I moved to Hahei in the Coromandel to work as a sea kayak guide. Here I picked up a paintbrush again and began a journey that would realise my dream.
At first I mostly painted landscape from life but soon started to tell the stories of the area through my artwork. The design element in these paintings caused my artwork to take on a different look. This style was developing well but took a huge leap forward after an incredible sea kayak journey up the coast of the Coromandel, out to Great Barrier Island then up the East Coast of Northland to Houhora, with my partner Tyrell. The duration of the journey was five weeks and by the end I was brimming with inspiration. Over the next eight months I dedicated my time and focus entirely to painting the experience.
My intention was to share the places that we’d seen. Places that would take your breath away. To capture the moments that were funny, scary or beautiful and were most memorable and shaped our experience. I wanted to pass on the feeling of elation that I got from seeing a whale cruise by under my kayak and the pleasure of watching every sunrise and sunset for weeks on end and admiring the Milky Way each night. Most of all I wanted to share the simplicity of enjoying life one day at a time and feeling completely content.
This series about our adventure was my first exhibition and a total success but more importantly I had found my Turangawaewae and what it was that I wanted to do with my painting. I had discovered how to combine my passion for painting with my journeys in the outdoors and make them my world.
Since then I’ve been on more journeys into the wild and extreme places of New Zealand and the need to share those experiences through my artwork is stronger than ever.