A number of people have said that ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ is) is in my genes and to some extent they may be correct. My grandmother painted and so did Mum. My mother Marge Barley started painting when she was 9 years old and achieved some acclaim in New Zealand. In turn, her mother, my Grandmother started much later in life more from compulsion than conscious desire.
Ten years ago a well-intentioned friend shoved a paintbrush into my clenched fist, forcefully moving my hand between paint pot and paper until it moved of its own volition in a frenetic frenzy attended by a torrent of tears born of bewilderment and frustration, unaware of the wild colour patterning the fury within. Mum had passed away three years earlier from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
From these inauspicious beginnings I began to paint, and for a short time attended classes at the Hamilton Society of Arts in New Zealand. Seven years ago, we moved to the Gold Coast where I met Stephen Buntrock of the Gold Coast Art School. With his encouragement, painting became more than just something to do. It became a passion.
Another passion is dance, I love the musical synergy of movement, the human form working with rhythm mood and emotion, sensing the freedom as the dancer soars across the floor with effortless ease. Like a lot of little girls, I was sent off to ballet in a somewhat desperate attempt by my grandfather to stop me stomping around the house. Eleven years later I was selected to dance with NZ Ballet Company in a season of the Nutcracker. Did I stop stomping? No.
Ballet was to be my life; that was until I met the man of my dreams. Never the less, ballet has featured in much of my adult life by way of teaching and outlets of involvement.
I quickly discovered another outlet was painting. I spent a long time pondering on the skill set required to achieve my vision; how to portray the artistry of movement, the musicality and rhythm of dance, and the genius of the human form on canvas. Attempting different techniques, I learnt I am not an illustrator, but a painter who gravitated towards free movement.
In my quieter moments I often wonder what Mum would say if she were still here, left only with her paintings languishing against the wall. As an apprentice in the art of painting I hope the path ahead will be clear, perhaps meander elegantly at my will. Maybe it will broaden out to a huge piazza where I may sit for a long while, then later choose the many paths that transverse the piazza or continue again down the main road.