Art road to recovery
You could say Xanthe Wyse’s road to recovery is paved with art.
Her collection of colourful artworks document her own struggles with bipolar disorder, social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now her striking artworks will be on display in Spinning Orbit, an exhibition at Taupo¯’s Red Rock Gallery coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week. Xanthe says she uses art to download the energy and creativity during periods of mania, especially when she was initially struggling with the side effects of her medication.
“All of the paintings I do, even the ones I don’t like, they all were therapeutic for me, they helped me process stuff in a less distressing way.” Xanthe finds painting meditative and a way of overriding her mind when it starts racing.
“By painting abstract it allows me to let go of the perfectionism of trying to get it just right and also because it’s vague, there’s more than one meaning to me so there’s connections and also I can hide in plain sight what it really means.” It was because of her bipolar disorder that Xanthe decided she would like to hold an exhibition.
“When you’re happy manic, you have this selfconfidence that you don’t have when you’re depressed so I decided that I was going to have an exhibition...it was giving myself a sense of hope and purpose and meaning.”
Xanthe started art at 10 when she won a poster competition, judged by renowned Taupo¯ landscape artist Val Raymond. She studied art at high school, later doing evening classes and a week-long art workshop. She found realism frustrating because it was so hard to get everything the way she wanted it to look. Xanthe now has over 40 artworks and applied for funding from the Creative Communities Scheme. It was when she was looking for an exhibition space that Taupo’s Red Rock Gallery was suggested.
Xanthe says the idea of her first solo exhibition is “a little bit nerve-wracking”.
“A little voice still says to me that I’m not good enough but I’m going to do it anyway. That’s why I don’t want to put prices on my paintings because I feel people would judge them if they’re not worth that price so they’re for sale by tender. I would kind of like to get rid of them because it’s kind of like letting go.”
■ Spinning Orbit opens on Monday, October 8 at 6pm until Sunday October 14 from 10.30am to 4.30pm daily at Red Rock Gallery, 63 Raywood Cres, Ashwood Park (off Crown Road). Free entry and all works are for sale, with a percentage donated to the Mental Health Foundation.
Xanthe Wyse says when she created her large artwork Eruption Under the Sea, using cardboard and house paints, she felt she could really let go. She is also holding her painting Spinning Orbit.