28 Jul 2019

Jacqueline Fahey - seven decades of paintings

From Standing Room Only, 12:38 pm on 28 July 2019
Jacqueline Fahey

Jacqueline Fahey Photo: supplied

"When I got pregnant a number of writers and painters explained to me that I would no longer paint. That my creativity would now reside in my womb, that only women who didn't have children persisted in the arts."

Has a New Zealand living artist had a more remarkable career than painter Jacqueline Fahey? At 90 she's still painting and writing. Fahey graduated from Ilam the Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1950 and has been painting ever since. Then, she was a contemporary of fellow women trailblazers such as Rita Angus and Doris Lusk.

Indeed back in 1964, Fahey and Angus organised what is considered to be the first deliberately gender-balanced exhibition of artists in New Zealand at the Centre Gallery in Wellington.

By the 1970s while the art scene was dominated by male abstract painters, Fahey was at home raising children but at the same time producing some of her finest work - domestic scenes that fiercely spoke with humour and a joy of life to the frustration of suburbia and the place of women.

Colourful and daring psychological narrative scenes that were determinedly out of kilter with the prevailing fashions.

Fahey has focussed on painting the people in her life for over five decades; so it's apt that her latest survey exhibition is at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in Wellington, opening August 1.

As the gallery say, Suburbanites sees "love, loss, family, friendship, frustration, chaos, conflict and aging spill into the frame of portraiture." with Fahey's vantage point moving from the dining table out to the streets and the skate parks.