Yvonne Gillespie is speaking through her art in Oamaru – and she hopes people will listen.
At age 73, she has opened her first solo exhibition, Something to Say, at Art on Tyne’s new exhibition space “On the Freezer Wall”.
The exhibition makes a feminist statement and Gillespie hopes her paintings are seen as whole, harmonious compositions.
“It’s not the sole reason for the works, but it is a way of protesting and making a statement about women’s experiences in the world and how difficult it is and how hard it is and how sad many women’s lives are,” Gillespie said.
“It is really for all women, about all women.”
Gillespie is a graduate of Auckland’s Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. She moved to Oamaru from Wellington three years ago to be closer to family.
“I have a sister down here and since I’ve arrived another sister has arrived,” she said. “It’s a bit of an Oamaru sisterhood.”
She loves Oamaru’s Victorian precinct and the Otago countryside, and spends a lot of time exploring on foot.
She has been painting for about 20 years but her style and message has changed in recent years, and she has discovered art to be a powerful way to speak.
“People might shy away from a message because it’s too hard to listen to, or see, or read, so art is maybe a way of putting that forward,” she said.
“It is a pleasure to dip a pen into ink, draw a shape, or make a mark.”
Gillespie’s background is in nursing, and she also has a law degree. She stopped working last year and has been enjoying spending more time on her art.
“I’ve got a little space in my house and I’m really happy sitting there painting,” she said.
While she has exhibited her work in the past, Something to Say is her first solo exhibition.
“It’s the first time I’ve had a group of paintings I feel proud of and it really is the first chance that I’ve had,” she said.
“Just because you’re an older person it doesn’t mean the end of the road.
“A lot of people feel that art is for the young, but that’s not necessarily so.
“My work is different – a lot of work around is very highly polished and very finely finished and that can be a bit daunting if that’s not your style, but I think you just need to go for it.”