Photo / Simon L Wong
Ruby Wilkinson chases the sunlight in her first solo exhibition Sun Room. In a flurrying array of golden yellows, mossy greens and deep browns, the breakout artist captures an honest experience of the cosmos. Stirred by the escapist nature of the sun, Wilkinson attempts to slow down time by immortalising daylight.
Pieces such as 'Mountain Fringe ', ‘Spring Listener’ and ‘Mo(u)rning Swim’ speak to the intimate experiences of nature. Wilkinson has communicated the role that the environment played in not only the creation of the exhibition, at Wellington’s Jhana Millers Gallery, but the place it has in maintaining personal, physical and spiritual health, especially after lockdown.
Wilkinson understands life and land after existing in a space without sun for many hours and days. “I guess this [Sun Room] is me calling out to the sun,” she says.
Consisting of wisps, overlapping brush strokes, slanting swirls or open shapes resembling crescent moons, all have been made using the artist’s favourite brush, now worn to a bristly nub. Through intentional strokes, Wilkinson encourages audience members to slow down and find meaning in the abstract.
“[When sharing paintings] people will often have something visually in mind, this will always differ between individuals. But that's quite a normal thing in abstract painting. People want to associate things to symbols or colours and ground it in something familiar.”
Wilkinson grounds in the extremely familiar by turning to the sun, using its disinfectant properties to shine light on her more subdued feelings. Articulating anxieties when far from her canvas, she shared a particular fretfulness surrounding her debut, a typical timidness for a tender footed artist.
Wilkinson finds perspective amongst nature; acknowledging that she feels “small” around large parts of the land, she sees it important to tune into aspects of your control. Choosing to instead focus on the emotional experience of chasing the sun, Wilkinson channels it all in the work ‘Orchestra’, which illustrates the new beginnings that come with a sunrise. The piece amalgamates mustard, marigold and coffee hues to form a symphonic recipe of hope.
The recent Fine Arts graduate from Massey University was awarded the New Zealand Paint and Printmaking Award earlier this year. First showcasing ‘(a)part’ in 2020 alongside partner Christian Dimick, the pair exhibited works informed and modelled on the connection of sharing a studio and intimate relationship.
Predominantly working in the field of paint, Wilkinson lends her hands to many other forms such as poetry, sound and photography. Inspired by life, nature and those surrounding her, she aims to make paintings that evoke a feeling or a reaction.
“The process of painting is quite slow compared to other mediums like photography,” she says. “I think it’s important because it’s a type of work that allows people to actually stop, slow down and be present with something real.”
Housed in the Jhana Millers Gallery in Pōneke Wellington, ‘Sun Room’, accompanies texts from Tendai Mutambu and a video by Fraser Walker, from August 18 - September 10, 2022.