When Mumpty finally met Kiwi Jo
(Joanne Gair) …
Joanne Gair is an uuber-talented, fabulous woman whom I feel doesn’t get NEARLY enough credit in New Zealand for her incredible career. She is a world-renowned makeup artist; she’s acknowledged as the world’s leading body paint artist and she’s also a fine artist who dabbles successfully in painting, sculpting and etching – amongst a million other talents! Over the years she has counted Heidi Klum, Rachel Hunter, Madonna, Steven Tyler, Demi Moore, Lady Gaga and countless other megastars amongst her clients, and she is the lady responsible for the incredible body painting you see on the Sports Illustrated calendars. While Joanne is probably best known for her pioneering work on Demi Moore (think the pregnant Demi and the “birthday suit” Demi), the picture below (The Disappearing Model) is acknowledged by the art world as perhaps the finest example of body paint by the world’s finest body painter.
I first got in touch with Joanne when I approached her to do an interview for Makeup Obsessives ( you can read this interview in two parts below.)
Joanne was incredibly generous with her time and her knowledge and since then we have built an online, and now an IRL, friendship that I very much treasure.
Anyway … Kiwi Jo, as she likes to be called, recently returned to New Zealand to visit her beloved family. And this time, I got the chance to meet her as she invited me to her exhibition opening night at Blikfang Art & Antiques in Northcote, Auckland. The photo up there ^^ is one taken at the exhibition, and as seems to be generally the way with me when a photo is important to me, it was rubbish – of me anyway, not of Joanne and my daughter! Oh well! If you are wondering why the star; that is because we don’t put our daughter online; and she is our little star – so yep!
Anyway … I have never really been to an exhibition of this type before; only exhibitions in museums or galleries where there are stark white walls and you wander around appreciating the art but not really “feeling it.”
May I just say at this juncture, that I am most certainly not an art aficionado and do not claim to know much about it! However, Blikfang’s philosophy is to present art as it would be presented in your own home – i.e. with furniture around it, and wallpaper and just, you know – stuff. And that seems clever to me, because after all, that’s how we live with the art we purchase right?
If I were an art aficionado, I would have written something like this, which is great and worth the read to find out a bit more about Joanne and the background behind her work. In summary though, the ink drawings Joanne is currently exhibiting at Blikfang are an extension of her body painting, in which she explores how bodies can portray emotion, convey intimate moments and engage in provocative movement. Joanne told me most of these works were done with live models in front of her, who were moving constantly, so she could capture that feeling of movement and vibrancy in her portraits. The “loose style” of these works is in contrast to the fine detail required for her makeup and body paint work and she said she just loves the freedom to work in that manner.
And again – more of Joanne’s work in situ at Blikfang below … this one is called “Big Bird” and was painted in 2014.
Joanne’s work is showing at Blikfang until the 30th of April so I would highly recommend you pop in and see it if you get a chance.
And there’s one final thing I wanted to mention (OK two – the next paragraph details the second!) … Joanne has two books; the first being Paint A ‘Licious (see below) and the second being Body Painting Masterpieces (with foreword by Heidi Klum.) I am now the proud owner of Paint A ‘Licious with a beautiful personal message written in big, sprawly artistic writing on the inside cover. Joanne talked us through the “back stories” to some of the images in Paint A ‘Licious and suffice to say, I would love to steal her away for a weekend so she can tell me the rest of them! It is truly a labour of love that celebrates family, friends and Joanne’s journey.
The other thing I wanted to mention; Joanne introduced me to a lovely lady at the exhibition by the name of Michele Whitecliffe, of Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design fame … she has two incredibly talented children – both of whom earned high praise from Joanne. Check them out on Instagram; @lakenwhitecliffe (an insanely talented artist) and @amberwhitecliffe ( a fashion designer.) You will be impressed.
This enthusiasm for new talent is yet another thing I love about Joanne – she is all about supporting new and upcoming artists and does not let her lofty position in the art and body paint world affect her genuine Kiwi down-to-earth generosity of spirit.
As Joanne, herself would say:
Hugs abundant …