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Gwyn Hughes

NATURAL PROGRESSION

Gwyn Hughes’ father and grandfather used to paint and it was a natural progression for him to become an artist. Gaining a National Diploma at Wrexham College of Art, Wales between 1980-1982, he was excited to explore his creativity and find his own path and as most artists do, he took inspiration from all of the great artists he came across. Gwyn tells us his story.

I first came to New Zealand in the 70s through a joinery internship. I joined a band, secured a couple of residencies in Christchurch and stayed for five years. After moving back to Wales from New Zealand, I would pop into a gallery run by a local artist, David Williams. I started to draw birds and local landscapes, and paint watercolours, and I was encouraged to pursue the arts as a career. I completed my four-year Illustration and Design Diploma in two years. I have never been a great one for entering exhibitions or awards but know as an artist it’s how you put yourself out there. I have been very lucky throughout my art career and I have received loads of support from family and friends who have always offered encouragement and critique. 

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Sheree Foster

Sheree Foster Aotearoa Artist Magazine

SHEREE FOSTERS ARTISTIC JOURNEY

By Ben Lavin

Sheree Foster has always been involved in one way or another with creative things. Before becoming a full time, self-taught artist “...graduating from the school of Life’’, she was in Banking, Event Marketing and then, after having her family, a Design Build Consultant, with interests in photography, floral, and landscape design. She actually never considered becoming an artist until a visiting friend observed a piece she had created lying on a table and then asked her what gallery she had bought it from. She was quite taken aback to hear that Sheree had made it and after learning there were no plans for it she promptly decided to buy it on the spot. It now hangs proudly on their wall in their new contemporary beach house in Waihi Beach - all two metres of it, and recently been joined by piece number two another two metre monster. Thus began Sheree’s adventure as an artist which she admits was a bit of a crossroads in her life. What should she do next? 

After doing several weddings and seeing the wastage of flowers for one day she decided she wanted to create something from this and the idea came to her of repurposing floral waste into all sorts of art pieces from wreaths to busts of heads, all in pre-loved flowers and often with a vintage flair. The enjoyment of creating this art, as well as the pleasure of seeing one of her pieces in its forever place, was what really motivated her to keep going. 

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Jonathan Bourla 1 Aotearoa Artist Magazine

Jonathan Bourla

Jonathan Bourla Aotearoa Artist Magazine

CREATIVE FORCE

Jonathan Bourla has never been formally trained, however he has gained invaluable experience and insight from the likes of Ansel Adams and Howard Bond. In 1997 when he travelled from New Zealand to attend a workshop in America run by Howard Bond, Howard realised Jonathan couldn’t learn everything from a single workshop so he gave him a whole book’s worth of notes to take home. 

These notes, together with instructional books written by the great American photographer Ansel Adams, formed the basis of his education. Both Howard and Ansel believed you had to be in good control of the technical aspects before you would be in a position to express yourself creatively. Adams had created a system called the Zone System which allowed you to calculate ideal camera settings and film development times. “It was very difficult to grasp from Adams’ writings but became clearer from Bond’s notes. Many people apparently give up on the Zone System as too complicated but it formed the basis of my photography’s technical side for many years.”

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Bernadette Ross 1 Aotearoa Artist Magazine

Bernadette Ross

Bernadette Ross Aotearoa Artist Magazine

RARANGA HARAKEKE

Gaining a Bachelor of Māori Art between 2010 and 2013, at Te Wananga O Aotearoa was the solution for Bernadette Ross after she sustained permanent damage to her spine from landscaping.

Bernadette adores working with plant material. “After visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK, when I was a younger mum, I was drawn to the woven artefacts on display. After 18 years in the UK I returned to NZ with my family and the journey into Raranga began eight years later.” She feels very privileged to live both by the sea and bush, claiming the inspiration is all around!

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Jo Rankin

jo-rankin-aotearoa-artistABSTRACT BALANCE

Formal training began for Jo Rankin when she graduated from the two year Nanette Cameron Interior Design School Auckland in 2008. Included in the training subjects were colour harmony, balance, styling and art history which also sparked her interest in painting and becoming an artist.

Moving to Kinloch in 2010, Jo joined a watercolour group in her local community. At the same time she joined Active Arts Taupō where she went every week to paint. “I had a great time there, being encouraged by other artists and making new friends.” Semi-retirement allowed her the time to explore her artistic dreams. “Loving colour and design led me to begin my journey as an artist. I have always been a voracious reader and love my collection of art books where I constantly find inspiration. Also our beautiful country and scenery fires my creative soul each day.”

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James Price

James Price-aotearoa-artist-the-nz-artist-magazine

SOOTHING INSPIRATION

James Price had done some photography previously but in 2021 completed the Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in Creativity through The Learning Connexion. In 2022 James completed the Level 5 Diploma with them, and is already working through Level 6 and loving every moment of his study.

“I love being behind a camera, and whilst commercial work might pay the bills, I like spending time working on a single image that might not come together otherwise. Art for me is when you share a bit of your soul with what you do.” Art has carried him through his three very different careers, becoming the defining part of his character: “In my first career, I looked at art. In my second career, art was a learning experience, and in my third career, art was part of the creative process. Art has taught me, soothed me, and inspired me. Now I continue my journey with art, as an artist. It’s pretty cool.”  

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Bec Robertson

bec-robertson-aotearoa-artistAVIAN AFFINITY

Bec Robertson’s grandmother and her grandmother’s sister were painters in their retirement. Bec’s grandmother also wrote and illustrated poems and stories, “As a kid I also wrote and illustrated A LOT of ‘newspapers’. I would make up fanciful news stories and pictures then sell ‘the paper’ to my dad for lolly money. I soon learnt that I could resell the same articles to my other family members for more money for lollies! I loved showing them new pictures and ideas and getting their feedback.”

She tells us more: “I have loved being creative for as long as I can remember. As a young child I had a cupboard in the kitchen under the bench where I kept all my treasures, little bottles of crayon sharpenings, paper cut outs of anything which took my fancy, matchboxes full of strange found objects - I think a few unfortunate forgotten lady bugs and a caterpillar died as a result of my match box obsession.”

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Michaela Voigt

MICHAELA JANE VOIGT

Always a very creative person, when the decision came in year 13 to decide what was next for Michaela Voigt, it was either going to be something along the lines of Sports and Nutrition or something creative and she chose an Applied Arts Degree - a Bachelor of Applied Media Art at the Southern Institute of Technology which she completed in 2013.

“I did focus a lot on the digital side whilst studying but my favourite class, looking back, was definitely life drawing. Since graduating I have mostly been a full time Graphic Designer putting work into the odd exhibition but in the last couple of years I have really started pursuing my love of drawing again in particular flowers and botanicals.”
She finds inspiration in all that surrounds her. “I draw things I have seen that are memorable to me and it’s usually the little things.

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Deborah Taylor

Never having had any formal art training, Deborah Taylor attempted an online course a few years ago but found the deadlines and stress of it all too much as well as working full time. Other financial constraints had left her feeling inadequate and floundering and after being diagnosed with bipolar, she found art to be cathartic and a means with which to express herself. With a level 5 in Academic Writing, she also likes to write and compose poetry.

“I have always been interested in art since high school especially, my art teacher Mr Hebley was a great teacher. I did unfortunately muck around a lot and never passed art as a subject but I always kept on painting and creating art whenever I could. When my children were little I would always have art stuff set up for them to express themselves through drawing and painting or making salt dough craft. I started painting again when my children were older, as a hobby.”

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Laura Buchanan

Laura-Buchanan-aotearoa-artistTHE POTTERY PLACE

Switching between studio pottery and ceramic sculptures Laura Buchanan, also known as Lulu, has moved around New Zealand quite extensively, but has now settled in a small seaside community, near Whanganui. She introduces herself to us and tells us her story.

I started making clay sculptures about 15 years ago, while living at Muriwai Beach. My husband was a paramedic, so worked nights regularly. I’d get our two young daughters, Maddie and Pippa off to bed, then spend my evening creating with clay. The femine figures which were formed, related to that maternal stage of my life. Without access to a kiln I’d make silicone and plaster molds of the clay forms, to later cast the sculptures using concrete. 

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