Writer distracted by art
But she loves it
The art world was a natural setting for Titahi Bay author Rosemary Wildblood’s second novel Pentimento, as she has spent the past two decades shaping New Zealand’s arts sector.
Wildblood shies away from naming contemporary Kiwi authors as literary influences, because she knows them all and doesn’t want to offend anyone by leaving them out.
After spending 17 years at Creative New Zealand, nine of those as a literary adviser, Wildblood left fulltime work to focus on her writing. She had already published a novel, Joybird, in 2004, and has had poems published.
Pentimento took six years to write, however, because Wildblood could not help but lend her time to voluntary arts causes. She chairs the Wellington Writers’ Walk Trust, is on the New Zealand Society of Authors Council, helps choose recipients of the Katharine Mansfield Menton residency, and is on the com- mittee which oversees the New Zealand Post Book Awards.
‘‘I find it very hard to say no to people, and I love to be in the thick of things, and it’s a way to keep in touch with my friends in the sector.’’
She plans to slow down and devote more time to her writing next year.
Pentimento is the story of a Christchurch artist, Cliff, who falls for violinist Serena when she models in his art class. Serena’s deteriorating mental state has a lasting effect on Cliff, which carries through to his relationship with another woman, Rachel.
The 2011 earthquake forces the characters to take stock of their lives and try to come to terms with the past.
Pentimento is an Italian word describing how an older painting can show through layers of paint on top of it, and is a metaphor for Rachel’s discovery of Cliff’s past.
‘‘ When he meets this woman she’s not aware of the harrowing experiences with this other woman. In the book I’m trying to peel back layers and show what’s actually happening,’’ Wildblood says.
While the subject matter is serious, English- born Wildblood says she is a more optimistic writer than most Kiwi authors.
‘‘ I wouldn’t say I go for happy endings but I like things to be hopeful.’’
Pentimento book launch, Saturday, 2pm, Pataka. Signed books $30.
Arts enthusiast: Titahi Bay author Rosemary Wildblood’s second novel Pentimento took six years to write because she spends so much time volunteering in the arts sector.