Artist pro­file

Art and Erin O’Mal­ley go way back, and she’s never stopped keep­ing the faith.

Homestyle New Zealand - - CONTENTS - IN­TER­VIEW Alice Lines PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Larnie Ni­col­son

Erin O’Mal­ley.

“I’ve al­ways painted,” says Erin O’Mal­ley, artist, in­te­rior de­signer and owner of Auck­land store Mad­der & Rouge. “I re­mem­ber us­ing my school paints to paint all the in­built drawers in my bed­room; I painted my par­ents’ an­tique roll-top desk; I painted clothes… any sur­face I could get my hands on. It got me in a lot of trou­ble; sand­pa­per and I be­came very good friends.”

Af­ter this fraught yet pas­sion­ate start, and work­ing as a high-school English teacher, Erin be­gan se­ri­ously pur­su­ing her paint­ing in her late twen­ties when she moved to Syd­ney with her hus­band, Dar­ran Man­gels­dorf. She ma­jored in paint­ing at a pri­vate art school, then in her fi­nal year taught the foun­da­tion class on its North Shore cam­pus. Her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion was held at a gallery at The Rocks, and a num­ber of group shows with fel­low stu­dents fol­lowed.

In 2000, the cou­ple’s first child, To­bias, was born, and the fam­ily moved back to Auck­land and opened Mad­der & Rouge. In 2009, Erin picked up her paint­ing where she left off. She now com­pletes two bod­ies of work a year.

Erin, how does your cre­ative process

be­gin? For me, it al­ways starts with text. I be­gin with a group of words that en­cap­su­lates a feel­ing. This moves into a palette of colours, which then takes on form. My work is strongly tied to my faith. I like to think of my paint­ings as ‘songs’ of beauty and joy that cel­e­brate the re­la­tion­ship we have with our cre­ator and cre­ation, the hu­man­ness of us and our beau­ti­ful land.

And how does each se­ries evolve?

Once my idea has de­vel­oped be­yond words and the paint is ready to hit the can­vas, I start lay­er­ing up colour. I don’t usu­ally be­gin to work on an idea un­til I have at least three dif­fer­ent lay­ers of paint down. I just en­joy the colours and the tex­ture of the brush­strokes, and es­sen­tially play with the paint.

I work on three pieces at a time. I start my first work, then use the left­over paint to start lay­er­ing on the next can­vas. I’m never sure how many pieces I’ll have – I usu­ally paint un­til I feel the idea has come to an end. Fun­nily enough, my last two works are usu­ally my favourites. •

One is a fi­nal cel­e­bra­tion of the idea I’ve been ex­plor­ing and the other of­ten holds a clue to my next body of work – it has moved be­yond my theme.

What medi­ums do you work with?

I work with acrylics, char­coal and dif­fer­ent paint medi­ums. I’m way too im­pa­tient for oil paint – I’ve blown nu­mer­ous hairdry­ers dry­ing my art­works so I can keep work­ing on them.

Does your role at Mad­der & Rouge

fuel your cre­ative out­put? Not in terms of paint­ing, but I do love the creativ­ity of it. I love cre­at­ing a space of beauty, be­ing con­scious of how our cus­tomers’ eyes travel around the shop. Like a paint­ing, I work with shape, colour and tex­ture to cre­ate a vis­ually sat­is­fy­ing in­te­rior picture.

With ev­ery­thing else you’ve got go­ing on, how do you make time to

paint? I’d be ly­ing if I said I found it easy. I’m of­ten cre­atively frus­trated by the time lim­its placed on me by my fam­ily and work com­mit­ments, and fre­quently have to take a deep breath and re­mind my­self my time will come.

Due to my time con­straints, I have to be very in­ten­tional about my paint­ing and I’ve learned to be very self­ish with that as­signed time. I don’t wait to feel like paint­ing – I force my­self to just pick up the brush and be­gin. Within about 30 min­utes, I’m hooked.

I paint all day one week­day and one day dur­ing the week­end. To­bias and Sophia, my daugh­ter, know that din­ner on paint days will be rub­bish, if I man­age to pro­duce din­ner at all!

What do you think the se­cret is to

mak­ing art work in a home? Buy only what you love. Art should sing to you. I think it sits out­side an in­te­rior scheme. I don’t care if it doesn’t match my colour scheme – if you’re op­er­at­ing on in­stinct, I think you’ll find it sits beau­ti­fully in your home.

Is it an in­vest­ment? Re­ally, who cares? Who are you buy­ing the work for? In my mind, if you have an emo­tional con­nec­tion to the art, it’s done its job well. eri­no­ma­l­le­

THIS PAGE Erin’s lat­est set of ‘songs’, Fall­ing Ac­tion, be­gan its life in a quote by Wil­liam Shake­speare: “All the world’s a stage, and all men and women merely play­ers. They have their ex­its and their en­trances, and one man in his time plays many...

A cur­tain of shim­mer­ing light II, A sky full of rip­pling cliffs & chasms and The world is a stage (be­low).

FEEL­ING IT “Colour has al­ways been very in­stinc­tive for me,” says Erin. “I love the en­ergy of it. It has a lan­guage all of its own; like words placed side by side, dif­fer­ent colours next to each other tell dif­fer­ent sto­ries. In terms of my paint­ing,...

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