S: Clare Wilcox - Artist
2: Clare Wilcox Artist
3: As a young girl living on a Southland farm in New Zealand, Clare found a way to passionately express not only herself, but her natural surroundings, through various art forms. And now, some thirty years later, she’s still doing it. In fact, it was a Southland Girls High School art teacher who moulded and encouraged Clare to complete her degree in design and art studies. It was also a teacher at this school to whom Clare sold her first painting. A clothing design career in both Invercargill and Christchurch started Clare on what was to be a lifelong journey of creativity and eccentricity. Specialising then in delicate hand stitched wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, Clare still reinvents a dress or outfit for every occasion whether it’s for herself, her family members or friends. Among many hobbies at the time, Clare completed an endless array of cross stitch pillows and frame works, as well as extravagant patchwork quilts. Clare has even taught herself how to make cheeky textile jewellery and to professionally matt and frame. But it was in Central Otago that Clare returned to her first love – painting. To improve her overall skill set, Clare worked with a tutor from the Wanaka Art School and explored life drawing. Clare reflects that as a goal to improve her ‘people skills’ that year, she completed a nude for each of her family members as Christmas gifts. “I felt inspired the most, however, when I was flying over Central Otago, Southland and Canterbury with my husband. The land’s history, and my relationship to that land’s amazing creativity, became an on-going focus for my work”, says Clare. Clare sees her world in vibrant colours, textures, abstractions and shapes. Her paintings portray how she interprets and feels her environment, unlike a still photograph. “Art has to make me feel good. I specifically use opposing palate colours so they quite literally pop, or sing, with each other on the canvas. Primary colours are my favourite as I can use them effectively to show flow, emotion and movement”, says Clare.
4: 'Conversation with the Land' Series Unknowingly, Clare kick started her professional painting career while constantly flying over the Central Otago, Southland and Canterbury regions with her husband who, to this day, is still an avid pilot. “Looking down from the plane, I couldn't help but see how the rural farm landscapes were mutating with the inevitable development of the dairy farms, along with their irrigation methods. I noticed that shelter belts were coming down to make room for pivot irrigation and that crucial water sources were changing”, says Clare. ‘Conversation with the Land’ is a series of works that show the metamorphosis of our land as the dairying business evolves. The engulfing pivot irrigators that crawl like caterpillars around the once angular paddocks have become an overwhelming aspect of Clare’s paintings, not only in this series but in most of her pieces moving forward as well. Clare paints contemporary interpretations of stock lanes, hay bales, irrigation channels through farmland, the drilling for new water sources in the Earth’s crust, smaller older forms of irrigation and larger pivot irrigation systems. She tries to incorporate and emphasise the old ways versus the new ways whilst farming off the land. Each piece begins with an image, moving through its development with design, colour and texture. “I work in response to each new component as it appears, finally encasing the work to create a tile or glass like image”, says Clare.
5: Spring Storm 2014 Bones in Our Land 2013
6: Stacked Boulders 2014 | Red Rain 2009
7: This Weekend Only 2007
8: Milly 2008 | Our Land, My Place 2009 | Surface Imagery 2007
9: The Soul of Our Land 2007 Estuary 2008
10: River Flows 2013
11: Summer Fire 2013
12: Vantage Point 2008 | Exposure of Layers 2014
13: Rebecca 2008 | Sheltered on the Surface 2008 | Water's Energy 2008
14: As Day Follows Colour 2013
15: Roads are Full 2009 | 'Wheels of Motion in Colour' Series The ‘Wheels of Motion in Colour’ series was influenced by the time Clare and her family spent while living in Jaipur, India. Although an extremely challenging, but rewarding, time for Clare, she used the opportunity and additional inspiration to deviate from her original farming and landscape interpretations to quite literally working with different forms of movement, colour and chaos – all to illustrate the life of extremes in India. Clare recounts the numerous festivals they participated in while traveling through Rajasthan. “We witnessed bold colours, busy patterns and alluring textiles and fabrics in all the country’s rituals and culture. I was particularly taken with the painting of elephants in colourful stripes and polka dots for the festivals. The elephants seemed to know they were ‘on show’ and paraded themselves around with great pride”, says Clare. You can easily detect the striped colour bands and dots in this series of art that wistfully remind Clare of those graceful creatures. Rickshaws, so common a form of Indian transport, also became a focus within Clare’s work. “I felt rickshaws portrayed the extremes of life – from the mundane through to the chaos in movement of hundreds at one time. The noise, the traffic filled roads and so many people – all moving in different directions, but with plan and purpose. So many churning wheels, all struggling for survival in a day to day setting”, says Clare. The rickshaw wheels can be seen as topsy turvy saucer like shapes with the physical activity of movement, and moving forward, seen in the oblong shapes.
16: Traffic Jam 2010
17: To Eat, To Love, To Survive 2009 | Pivot Irrigation 2010
18: Patterns of Thought 2013
19: His Life Moves So Slow 2009
20: Wheels of Motion and Colour 2010
21: ‘Fly with Me’ Series The ‘Fly with Me’ series of paintings was inspired by a poem that a friend of Clare’s wrote. “Once upon a time A butterfly touched my hand A friend touched my heart A son touched my soul Now I feel joy” And so Clare began the study of a small form..from Monarch butterflies which literally carry so much beauty and intense colour in their small delicate wings, to the larger Dragonfly form. The Dragonfly has always been a subject of intrigue. In ancient mythology, these water nymphs were once seen as dragons. Coming from the family word ‘Odonata’, meaning tooth in Greek, Dragonflys were originally believed to possess teeth as they literally crushed their prey. Nowadays, the incredibly agile Dragonfly symbolizes change and its form exudes both power and poise. “For me, these winged flights of fantasy are so captivating. I feel they not only carry, but spread, happiness and bring all of us whispered messages from afar”, says Clare. “I too am frequently reminded of a quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne which goes like this.Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” Ichneumonfly Dragonfly (right) 2010
22: Antique Flight 2013
23: Pack Up and Fly 2013 | Fly With Delight 2013
24: Plague Locust 2010 | Smiths Dragonfly 2010
25: 'Flowing Water' Series The ‘Flowing Water’ series is both a natural and sophisticated progression of Clare’s earlier work in ‘Conversation with the Land’. “I wanted to take my original themes that one step further, adding complexity in raised textures, using richer colours including the use of metallics, as well as the elegant blending of those colours from one into the another”, says Clare. Still painting contemporary interpretations of stock lanes, animal paddocks, wrapped hay bales, wide crocked rivers, the drill which symbolises exploration of new water sources, as well as both the older and more modern pivot irrigation systems, Clare has yet again managed to reinvent the landscape of her youth. Pathways One, Pathways Two and Pathways Three (shown right) 2012
26: Driven by Drought 2010
27: No Wine, No Song 2010 | Out of the Canterbury Summer 2011
28: Thrilling Power 2010 | Changing Seasons 2011
29: Our Land, My View 2010 | Yell Fire 2010 | Surface Flow 2014
30: Colour Talks in Our Lands 2013
31: Listen to the Colour 2013 | Chronicles of Our Land 2013
32: Water's Edge Land Changes 2012 2010
33: Weather with You 2010 | Yell Water 2010
34: 'Movement in our Land' Series The landscape of Christchurch, and Canterbury as a region, has buckled and woken all of us. No longer do we take for granted opportunities to connect, or civil spaces to commune. The Earth’s message reminds us all to strive for enlightenment, to pursue our goals, to seek knowledge and to find a standing place in the world. It’s all about positive flow. “Post the devastating earthquakes in both 2010 and 2011, I needed to somehow document my feelings about these events. I wanted to show, through art, that there can be forward movement in our lives and not the sadness and disruption that a lot of people felt”, says Clare. In Clare’s boldest series of paintings, ‘Movement in our Land’, she has shown that we have to flow with what Mother Nature gives us and that we can’t control our Earth’s forces. “We all need to rise and move forward”, says Clare. “Our spirit can still flow and I have tried to symbolise that spirit in an uplifting curve. A curve that may be interrupted or broken, but one that can be repaired and will continue with hope.” Clare has used several different texture mediums in her recent paintings to show the city of Christchurch being rebuilt and that the dust is rising with every movement in the land. Find the other meaningful symbols she uses – seismic waves, tall building blocks, broken earth lines and the feeling of chaos that was experienced.
35: Movement in Our Land 2012
36: A Need to Speak in Colour (top) 2012 Dust Veil (bottom) 2012
37: Colour Pops (4 pieces) 2012
38: Changes on Our Surface 2012 | Earth's Biology 2012
39: Growth from the Dust 2012 Our Exquisite Land (2 pieces) 2012 Moving Seasons 2012
40: The Freshness of a New Day 2013
41: Blue Day 1 2013 Blue Day 2 2013
42: We Will Keep Smiling 2011 | Incandescent Landscape 2012
43: New Day Comes 2012
44: Summer (set of four tiles) 2014
45: Splendour in Our Land 2014 | Make Way for Movement 2013
46: 'Grazing the Land' Series Most recently, Clare has explored a quirky (yet somehow complimentary) diversion from her ‘Conversations with the Land’, ‘Flowing Water’ and ‘Movement in Our Land’ painting series’. The result – abstract farming animals as depicted in her first painting of the series entitled, ‘Over the Fence’ created in early 2014. “I wanted to make that natural progression from painting about what happens directly on and beneath the surface of our land and lighten it up a little whilst looking at how the grazers affect, and are being effected, by the changing dairy farm industry.”, says Clare. And while Clare has definitely managed to add an element of satire to her painting style, she has also added an element of endearment, cheek and emotion. There is also however a serious side to this ‘Grazing the Land’ series as Clare explores the impact on the farm land that the dairy industry has created. She studies how cows in particular have created a need for this change. Clare shares her thoughts, “By showing the endearing face of a cow while exploring the flow of effluent in our water ways and how we can deal with this, I have created conflicting emotions about the impact of this habitation on our country’s fragile environment. Both humans and animals are the ultimate custodians of our country.” Interpret for yourself a few things in her ‘Grazing the Land’ series – raised white textures throughout representing the purity of a cow’s milk and the contrasting yellow and green colours used to show that, what goes in must also come out, and how that can affect our lands.
47: Over the Fence 2014
48: Clare now lives north of Christchurch, in Rangiora, with her charming husband and two daughters who will undoubtedly have the same design and artistic flair that she does. Clare’s work can be viewed and purchased at Majuba Gallery in Hanmer Springs, Bryce Gallery in Riccarton (Christchurch), Shine in Nelson, Helena Bay Gallery and Café in the Bay of Islands and the Waipara Hills Winery in North Canterbury. Commission works can be seen publicly at the Select Braemar Lodge in Hanmer Springs, the Artisan Bakery in Rangiora, the Winton Medical Centre, Southern Wide Realty in Invercargill, Canterbury Christian Funeral Services in Christchurch, Saunders Robinson and Brown Lawyers (Christchurch and Rangiora Offices) and within numerous private collections of friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances throughout New Zealand and overseas.