Art road to re­cov­ery

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - News - Lau­rilee McMichael

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.

Photo / Lau­rilee McMichael

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.

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