Jo Gallagher

Living in the small King Country settlement of Piopio provides Jo with rich visual and personal influences. Her home is in an area of dynamic rugged landscapes, rural strength and warm-hearted people. Because of this Jo has a strong connection to the land, it’s physical presence, and experiences its evolving beauty and uniqueness on a daily basis. The changing seasons which bring new light and colour, the shifting ecology that gives her reason for concern and the fluctuating activity that is ever present when part of a farming culture are all hugely significant to her as an artist.

Jo’s painting over the past ten years has covered many aspects of her surroundings, for example the local landscape, plants and birds, animals, farm activities. More recently however Jo has begun to add another layer of interest into her compositions – that of humour! Just as she believes the need to be receptive to change, the time feels right to consider how additional layers of meaning can add visual depth and awareness and move her practice ahead. The characters Jo feels best able to represent, the fun there is to be had with language, symbolism and entrenched beliefs are all present in her most recent body of painting.

Jo works primarily as a contemporary realist having gained experience and new skills from the bold, gestural and more representational earlier work. These paintings were made to interpret the energy and strength of her immediate and much loved environment but as with everything, ideas develop and grow and with them bring new challenges and useful provocations for an artist.

In the most recent series Jo uses NZ native birds as both subject and object. They have been given a character and a starring role in her painting in order to voice her interest in the idiosyncratic and distinctive world we live in. The tui becomes a preacher (with lecturn) the kingfisher becomes a timekeeper (with watch),and a predator (with goldfish). This new collection of work allows Jo to add quirky, peculiar and the somewhat eccentric elements into her practice to keep it current, energetic and engaged.