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A body of work revealed

ROSE CAWLEY
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2013
Jacqueline
LAID BARE: Maraetai artist Jacqueline Brand-Holt is exhibiting more than 70 works of nude figures. She says ‘‘my art is like my response to what you get in this kind of perfect figured world, this cover-girl kind of world’’

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Jacqueline Brand-Holt is laying her values bare for all to see in her current exhibition, Just Figured.

The Maraetai artist has more than 70 works of nude figures on display at A Piece of Work Gallery in Howick.

The 38-year-old artist says she has portrayed the figures as she sees them, not how people assume they should look.

"Maybe I am politicised a bit about this because my art is like my response to what you get in this kind of perfect figured world, this cover-girl kind of world."

She says with the pressures society puts on body image, it is key to step back and just paint the person.

"I'm very interested in working from life. I'm painting people, I'm not objectifying them, I'm witnessing them, capturing them as they really are and not sexualising them, just painting them as a body is, as a person is."

She says the people depicted are a panorama of shapes and sizes.

"It is to recognise that everyone is beautiful and that everyone is wonderful," she says.

People can be taken aback by nudes but the naked form should be looked upon with ease, she says.

"I am trying to downplay the seriousness of which people take nude art.

"It isn't meant to be that way at all, it is for enjoyment."

"But as much as I feel that it is relaxed and it is not meant to be uptight or anything like that, it is interesting because people react to it in some strong ways."

Mrs Brand-Holt says what ends up on the canvas is more than just a visual snapshot.

"I worked for a long time in a theme park doing portraits of people; you have to capture the real person.

"I try to get under the surface of what is obvious, it is not just the lights and the shades it is actually the person, the mood."

She says more recently her art has been influenced by her work with creative expressive therapies.

"It is working with creative processes to help like counselling does," she says.

It was her involvement with adult art classes that pushed her to take up tertiary studies in the subject.

"Adults who come to art classes have agendas. They either want to learn to paint really well or they have had some huge life experience and they want to try to find some help to express that."

She says as an artist who has always expressed herself she struggled to help those who couldn't bring their inner feelings out on the canvas.

"So it has been useful to do the studies to get a better understanding of how you can scaffold the process for a person to bring what is inside out."

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She says it is important that her art has a sense of purpose.

"It is more meaningful to me when I feel that my paintings of people are not just looking pretty."

The exhibition runs until December 31 at A Piece of Work Gallery, 96 Picton St, Howick. Sold works will be available for collection from December 21.

Call 535 4605 for more information.

- Eastern Courier

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