Artist Antoinette Beck met Queenstown’s Ivy Box Art Gallery director Lynda Hensman in an unexpected place.
The last to join a motorcycle tour through the Alps, Antoinette Beck and her partner Mike hadn’t originally planned on going on the tour at all.
“It was our first motorbike tour and neither of us are interested in doing tours as such,” she explains, “but it was our first time in that country on a motorbike and we thought it would be sensible to do a tour.”
Lynda and her partner were already on the tour and the foursome connected instantly. Antoinette and Lynda soon discovered their joint passion for art.
“We’d sneak out to art galleries and shows while the boys did their thing. We’d discuss art and philosophy… we connected on so many levels and got talking about what we are passionate about. At a similar time, we both decided art was something we’d take more seriously and we took a few art classes and workshops together.”
About artist Antoinette Beck
With Antoinette based in her Studio 57 gallery in Taupo and Lynda in her studio in Queenstown, the two developed an artistic rapport. Lynda admired Antoinette’s photo-realistic style, while Antoinette wanted to develop the looser, more free technique she admired in Lynda’s artwork.
“Back then, my style was almost like photo realism because I wanted to prove to myself that I could paint what I see. Previously, I had channelled my passion for art into so many other things over the years: as an interior designer, an art teacher, but I had not done it personally because of that huge fear. What if I couldn’t paint at all? Photo realism was my way of proving to myself that I could.
“I got all of that out and then decided that I wanted to loosen up. If I’m not careful, I start to sneak back to that almost photo-realistic style, so Lynda and I did ‘freeing up’ workshops together and that worked really well for me.
“People describe my style now as atmospheric and moody. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation.”
Joining the Ivy Box Gallery
Artwork by Antoinette Beck will be exhibited for the first time in Queenstown when the new Ivy Box Gallery is unveiled in spring 2021.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the new Ivy Box Gallery building and I’m rapt to be part of it.”
This summer, Antoinette has travelled New Zealand in her campervan, exploring the varied landscapes of the South Island by mountain bike.
“We’ve done some amazing bike riding, around Wanaka, Queenstown and the West Coast. It’s a wonderful way to see the country and I now understand better why the work of South Island artists looks the way it does. The landscapes are on a whole different scale here.
“I’m often inspired by the landscapes where I live, Taupo, Rotorua and around these areas. It’s geothermic; there’s mud pools, steam and geysers. A lot of my work became more atmospheric because of that. There’s a wonderful colour palette there – everything from rusty reds to crusty white edges and the beautiful aqua-coloured water, it all ‘pops’. But my art is moving on from that now; it’s all landscape art in a general way, but I’ll let you decide what it really is.”
Art evoking memories
Painting primarily in oils on board with negative detail framing, Antoinette’s artworks are ethereal and evoke memories. Her slightly-out-of-focus landscapes remind the viewer of somewhere they’ve been before.
“An artist’s work is never static. We’re always trying to work out where we are going next. I’m not interesting in repeating myself. I definitely paint for myself… it has to come out. I paint because I have to, that’s the feeling. So I paint what I like, not what I think will sell (though it’d be hard if it didn’t sell… I’d have a house full on canvases!). People do seem to connect with that passion. And that’s why I’m excited about becoming part of the Ivy Box.
“You can see from the art and artists that Lynda brings together, that they and Lynda are doing it from the heart. They are all painting what they need to paint, not painting what they think will sell. That’s the difference. That’s what I love about the Ivy Box.
“Lynda has a very individual taste. That’s what I fell in love with when I first met her and I think the new gallery is going to reflect that passion and individualism.”