FROM THE FRONT PAGE
and there was no point her keeping them.
She will host a public art exhibition in her lounge on June 1, before burning what she doesn’t want at a later date.
Middleton’s family has a strong artistic streak. Middleton shared her creativity as a child with her watercolourist grandmother, Jessie Wigley. Sisters Annabel Elworthy and Jo Watson and her daughter Jessica Gunn are also artists.
Middleton championed public arts projects during her term as deputy mayor (2004-2007).
‘‘While I was on the council I did a BA majoring in humanities and I studied art. That is what got me back into it. I graduated when I was 64,’’ she said.
But she did not enjoy her first foray into the artist’s world with her prolific grandmother.
‘‘The first time I remember, I must have been 9 or 10 years old and I was sitting in the freezing cold, painting a bridge. That was at Washdyke [near Timaru].’’
For those unfamiliar with Timaru, it is perhaps useful to explain Washdyke Creek is not a very romantic place. In the early days it was used as a sheep dip.
Although Middleton loves the outdoors and has lived for significant periods in caravans or small cottages on the West Coast, at Aoraki/Mt Cook and in Wanaka, painting in the environment holds little appeal.
‘‘I didn’t enjoy it all. It always seemed to be cold. I’ve never enjoyed landscapes very much. I’ve always enjoyed people,’’ she said.
Similarly, Middleton is not that fussed on still life either.
‘‘Dead life,’’ she accuses one of her paintings of roses. ‘‘I absolutely hate it. It looks so contrived!’’
Because she is a keen traveller, quite a few of her portraits are of strangers. But family and friends have also submitted to Middleton, including her husband who in later years sat for his wife for hours.
‘‘I wouldn’t say he was willing, but he was cooperative,’’ Middleton said.
Although Middleton is on a ‘‘sell or burn’’ mission, she is not giving up her art.
She hopes to raise money so she can downsize, go on more caravanning adventures around the country and do more painting, particularly as she is changing styles and ‘‘getting looser’’ in her water colours.
‘‘As long as you are painting, you don’t get lonely. I just seem to lose myself. Don would say, ‘‘ When are we going to eat?’’ she said.
Monday June 1, 2pm – 5pm at 6 Waimana Place, Wanaka.