Rachel is originally New Zealand and has lived in North Carolina since 2003. She went to the Otago School of Art in New Zealand, and Central School of Art in Toronto, Canada.
Rachel has lived and exhibited in the United Kingdom, Germany, and New Zealand, as well as in the USA. She exhibits now with Zinc Contemporary in Seattle, Momentum Gallery Asheville and Craven Allen Gallery Durham NC.
The Poetry of Daily Life
I seek to reveal remarkable beauty in the ordinary, whether it be in a brightly colored curtain in a trailer home window, a tree growing amidst small-town architecture, or the intricate pattern on a second-hand chair. I look for the playful side of things normally seen as ugly or mundane and draw attention to the commonly overlooked. Creativity was my escape during childhood and continues to be my joy and salvation.
My paintings depict environments and their stories. I choose to work in abstracted realism, painting recognizable places and objects that I manipulate through color and juxtapositions of flattened spaces against modeled forms. I broadly paint some areas and use graphic detail to lead the eye to the most important objects in the story.
A human presence is implied by the absence of people and the inclusion of things they have left behind. Memories and experiences fuel my paintings, fleshed out with cherished details from my life—a dog leash, a plant given to me by a loved one, a favorite book, my kitchen table. While the meaning of these personal elements may not be immediately evident, their universality invites viewers to make their own associations. My hope is that my paintings bring forth other people’s stories and stir their memories, encouraging them to find beauty and playfulness in their own daily lives.
Where are you from? Did you grow up in a creative environment?
I'm from the city of Christchurch in New Zealand. Although my parents were creative in their own way, I did not grow up in a particularly creative environment. My creativity was sometimes appreciated but not exactly encouraged or affirmed. Having said that, New Zealand is a very small but creative country.
Who or what has compelled and/or encouraged you to create your art?
Basically, I have been a making whirly-gig since I was a small child. My mother supplied basic art materials. As an adult, my partner and his family have been an endless source of encouragement.
What is the key topic or issue that your work addresses?
I am drawn to the everyday, finding beauty in the narratives of the ordinary. I am also especially drawn to the presence of light.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
This is a strangely difficult question for me to answer. Art and creating are just what I do. I cannot not do them. So, in that sense, I am inspired by simply living, by seeing, and by experiencing. I express this in painting.
If you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing?
Acting. (I was a professional actor at the same time as I was progressing through Art School, and for some years after.)