Rachael's work is typified by affectionate parody, gentle wit and technical precision as she explores the icons and imagery of bygone eras. This series captures the economic crafting of mid-twentieth century travel marketing art. It strives to honour the astonishing and painstaking precision of this form, while paying homage to postcard visions of both her native New Zealand and her new home in Devon, England.
Find your freedom
Words by Jonny Rowden
Those times where the heart simultaneously yearns for the freedom and whimsy of youth, yet the comfort and wisdom of age; when memories crystallise around borrowed nostalgia from an unlived era; where long, lazy summer evenings and salt-licked beach trips seemed all there was; and daily life was punctuated by questionable marketing messages and culturally accepted sexual objectification; where men were men, soaked in grease and beer, and women sat in leather corsets astride giant, phallic Coke bottles.
Shed 5, 90 Wellesley Street, Auckland
I’ve spent three years in cahoots, painting between the lights to produce this series of spivv Pin-up’s, a collection fresh off the press. Most of you know I have a huge love for 40s & 50’s Americana and understand how much it influences my art & my life. It’s a place where every mundane snippet of life is so stylish yet false. The American dream had some of life’s most important things; sharp threads, confidently combined colour’s, out of this world tunes by the likes of Elvis & Chuck Berry, pastel Cadillac’s dander with their tailfins and figaries, and of course the main inspiration of all this… heaven-sent Rita, Brigitte & Marilyn, the lush knock outs of the era considered rebellious, against those fearful, oppressive, religious, buttoned-down types. We look back with a chuckle that life was savoured with an aspirin each morning, two packs of cigarettes a day while on the tare with scotch before driving home three quarters tore in your colleagues’ car.
Pin-up’s were the perfect hour-glass shape, with a tiny waist about two-thirds the circumference of her bust to hips. It’s a time, long before the need for designer vaginas or pubic hair styling, still one of the hidden mysteries left to the imagination. They were made for slapdash display, flaunted on calendars, paraded on postcards and pinned up in mechanic’s grubby workshops and secretively tucked behind their sun-visors. Playboy’s Hugh Hefner granted you permission to gawk without guilt at the boobs you had been having a gander at anyway, but not like an animal, not like a redneck, like a cosmopolitan of the world, a connoisseur of fine women, fine wine, and leather clothing. He stripped small town sexuality of Protestant fear & Catholic sham and came up with what can only be called the velvet revolution confronting the gap between what we are told and what we know. Elegant, sophisticated and aimed to civilize the savages.
We like to think of New Zealand as friendly country, but it’s a bit behind the rest of the world and a tad wet behind the ears, which is evident in our delight for the things we relate to as iconic, which in reality aren’t ‘kiwi’ anymore as most of our brands were sold off years ago, scoffed up by big American companies & we now languish in the WallMart effect.These iconic consumables initially capture us with their boldness and immediacy. They signify our past, our home grown culture & do-it-yourself, number 8 wire mentality. They tell a real story of life in what will hopefully be, a bygone, but remembered time as New Zealand moves forward. Let’s call it the end of the Golden Weather, our glory days.
I love the barely-veiled conformity slogans of 1950s advertising telling you which detergent to buy and the life you could have with humorously exaggerated ways of looking at things. Obviously these pieces were created with the idea of mixing the two ‘consumables’ together, making Pin-ups into something much more enduring on the canvas, with a poppy kiwi twist, drizzled with simple yet seductive titles which mean something a little different to what’s written on the packet. The works are certainly not chromaphobic either, in fact ridiculously bright, which is sadly often associated with being superfluous, a delusion I’d like to change. Colour is so important giving structure, meaning and emotion to art.
I am mostly self taught and my style seems to take a more backwards approach, with a vision of what I want to create; I then figure out the method that will achieve the right finish. I push my acrylics to their limit and admit I have no patience for oils. Fleshy, naughty, but sleek they are works of art, for anybody to gloat over that wants to. Art has its privileges. I saw young girls stealing sneaky glances at them, young men engrossed, gazing at them & men hang up on their charms with pathetic interest. One of the ‘privileges of Art’ is to be sexy. The women’s erotic charge is intensified by the fact that her body is not idealized by the flowery language of classical art, but rather the lingo of desire.
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