This page includes a brief profile, biography, contact details and information about New Zealand artist and teacher Amiria Gale – me. It focuses on information which relates specifically to my own contemporary artwork and includes links to my paintings. It is intended to help those who are studying – or interested in purchasing – my artwork, or who wish to find out more about me.
If you are looking for assistance with your high school Art projects, please visit my other website, the Student Art Guide.
If you would like to build a website like this one, please see my guide to creating your own website with WordPress. This has been written to assist students, teachers and artists who may be interested in creating a professional website that will help their work get seen by thousands of people.
An autobiographical recount
My childhood was spent in Tolaga Bay, on the East Coast of New Zealand. This was the type of town where you run barefoot: where you live in the sand dunes and feast on crayfish and kina. It is a place where you dive deep under waves with tangled, salt-knotted hair and sunburnt limbs.
It was here, with John Walsh producing his highly realistic Maori portraiture works just down the road and teachers encouraging me to sit cross-legged on the school grounds and ‘draw what you see’ that I first discovered a love for art-making.
My siblings and I had no shortage of things with which to paint or draw. We had all manner of paints, pencils, crayons and paper. Our mother showed us how to mix colours and apply textures and sometimes sat there herself and drew us lying around her while we watched.
As a teenager, I found great solace in the richly decorated art room walls at Lytton High School. Our classes were bright and vibrant, with many year levels often present at one time in a room. The Art Department had alcoves where senior students worked in undisturbed pockets, while junior students undertook supervised instruction in the centre areas of the rooms. For a shy and reserved teenager, hours of practise had at last begun to culminate in some level of recognisable skill: something I could use with a measure of confidence. At seventeen I had my first commissioned painting, followed by a summer of commissioned artwork (completed while designing and constructing outdoor furniture) sold for pennies to people I knew.
When university called, it was a dramatic change leaving the quiet and unobtrusive East Coast. I attended Auckland University’s School of Architecture, discovering here, for the first time, how to embrace the true insanity of an artist: how to swallow oneself in work and let it tell a story that speaks more clearly than surface aesthetic ever will. It took me a while to find my feet: a while to learn that someone from a little town in the middle of nowhere could compete with as much fury and ferocity as the next; to learn that artistic endeavour is as much about truth, as the straightness of line or mimicking of shadow.
I finished my degree, and then stood for a moment, utterly lost, toes in the sand, waves furling around my knees.
I turned up, at last, at Auckland College of Education, asking if I could be a teacher. The woman said no. She said I had an architectural background, not an artistic one, and that top schools wouldn’t take me. “I don’t want to teach at that kind of school,” I said, a little stubbornly, and pulled some of my paintings out to show her. The woman looked at them, for a long while. And, quite abruptly, she changed her mind.
So I taught. I have taught five year olds to eighteen year olds, specialising in Painting, managing a secondary art department for seven years at two Auckland schools. Teaching filled my lungs with happiness. It reminded me that, above all, people want to do good. It showed me that achievement is the result of effort, and that I should foster a diligent, systematic approach: temper artistic insanity with process. Teaching was my greatest education. I learnt to how to educate: to convey an exact understanding of that which I speak.
Teaching kept my brain alive and hungry. It kept creativity sneaking along my veins and itching in my fingers. The few paintings I made became sought after and accepted by galleries who encouraged me to paint faster and more. But, with teaching, as everything, there is a price. It takes practise and finesse to juggle the components of a busy life and that juggling act was not one I had yet mastered.
And so, at thirty years old, I walked away from my students and picked up a paint brush. Instead of an activity that was completed at the edges of an existence, painting was now activity number one. It was that which I fronted up to on a daily basis at 9am, in a paint-stained room with a ripped carpet floor.
I had enough interest in my work prior to leaving teaching to assure me that financial success as an artist was not out of the question. Indeed, I had always been a fervent believer that the biggest reason creative pursuits are perceived to be uneconomically viable is that those with the best chances of success give up before the battle is begun. Many of my most talented students – those who excelled in mathematics and commerce as well as art – never pursued an artistic career, despite being in the best position of all to make it. They let others fill their heads with fear.
I could have felt a similar fear. I could have felt daunted embarking on a career as a full time artist, but instead I felt flooded with joy.
As an artist, your work is the story. It is pieces of memory that are woven together into form: captured in fragments so that others can hang parts of it on their walls. It is truth and imagery composed so that it calls out for witnessing: it becomes needed, despite not being needed at all.
Artists paint to untangle their soul. They paint for the movement of brush; the smear of paint; the feel of texture against skin. They paint for light and shadow and the discovering of what was not there before.
I am amiria [artist]. This is my story.
This was published in 2010 in The Big Idea by Pink Noise. This was written in the year prior the birth of my first daughter, during a time when I focused on my art alone. Now, in addition to continuing to creating art (albeit at a much slower rate than before) I have created a website to help high school Art students gain excellent grades. Why? Because teaching is awesome. And I miss it!
Amiria Gale: Quick Facts
This section is written as FAQ, in response to the that questions I am emailed by students who are studying my work:
When was Amiria Gale born? I was born in 1979, in a small town called Tolaga Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand. I am the eldest of six children. My father was a fisherman (now a farmer) and my mother a teacher: we lived in a ramble-shack house at the edge of the sea.
Where did Amiria Gale study? I attended Lytton High School, Gisborne. I then studied Architecture at the University of Auckland and Teaching at the Auckland College of Education.
Where does Amiria Gale live? I currently live in Auckland, New Zealand, with my two young daughters, grey cat and three chooks.
Please tell me more about Amiria Gale’s paintings: I have created this website to display my artwork and to provide more information about the ideas behind them, as well as the processes, techniques and use of media involved. The article about my shell paintings contains a lot of information about the ideas behind my work and the painting processes I use.
Where can I purchase / view Amiria Gale’s artwork? My work has been represented by several galleries in New Zealand and has been featured on the set of The Blue Rose (S1, E10) a South Pacific Pictures television series. Artwork is currently displayed in private collections within New Zealand, Australia and Ireland. It has been commissioned to illustrate book covers and to create website illustrations, such as upon the homepage graphic here. My artwork is now sold exclusively through www.amiriagale.com. If you would like to contact me regarding the possibility of commissioning a work, please note that I am fully booked until March 2018.
Which artists have inspired Amiria Gale? You may wish to follow the StudentArtGuide on Pinterest, which contains a sample of the many artists and designers whose work appeals to me. An early influence was John Walsh, as described above. I studied Cubism as part of my high school Art classes and this has no doubt had an impact upon the fractured, disassembled nature of some of my paintings.
How can I contact Amiria? Due to the success of the Student Art Guide, I am inundated with emails and struggle to respond to these; hence messages through my contact form may not be responded to personally. If you are a teacher looking for assistance, I recommend that you join the High School Art Teachers Facebook Group and seek guidance from many of the wonderful people there. I moderate this group and occasionally manage to partake in discussions. If you are a student looking for assistance, I have just created the High School Art Students Facebook Group. This is a brand new group for Art students, which will be promoted shortly. Hope to see you there!