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Ashlee O'Hagan

Nine years, one teaching degree and three years teaching, one global pandemic, one death, two children ago I graduated from art school with an honours degree in painting. Nine years in the proverbial desert working and grieving and mothering and living and searching for that thing that I am supposed to do.

The prolonged, contradictory loneliness and introspection that comes with being a full time stay at home mum opened my eyes to what it is I should be doing; painting. Obviously. In the beginning it was a way to pass the time but has since developed into a method for connecting to my past, reconciling with my present and making sense of the aspects of my life that need making sense of.

I spend the majority of my time at home in Tahekeroa with my two young daughters. While they nap and in the evenings between bedtime and dinnertime I sneak away to my little studio to paint the flavour of the day.

Each of my paintings aims to cut to the emotional core of the subject matter and scene I am attempting to depict. Colour, exaggerated and simplified shapes and emotive gesture are the primary tools I employ to achieve this. I want to move people. I want people to get lost in the painting and find something within it that resonates with them.

My most recent body of work has focused on motherhood as a way to come to terms with the trials, tribulations and triumphs that go along with having children. But really my main interest is those deeply human experiences. Humans vary greatly. At the end of the day we are all human and there are many experiences we share. I want to depict those shared experiences in a beautiful, emotive way.

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