Situated in an unassuming studio on Murdoch Street, Mangawhare, is Big River Gallery — which has exhibited a variety of oil, acrylic and pastel artwork by local artist Jean Sircombe for the past 20 years.
Over the years, Jean has tutored many people and sold countless pieces of art from the accompanying exhibition room with pieces on display all over the world.
”Painting takes me out of myself and keeps me grounded. I also enjoy teaching, and I get satisfaction out of seeing other people happy with their artworks,” she says.
Jean’s artistic journey began when she was a child.
“I just picked up a pencil and was growled at for wasting time,” she says.
It did not deter her, however, and her interest in art continued throughout her schooling despite having to work with watercolour — which she was not so fond of.
As a young woman Jean worked as a herd tester before raising her family at Dairy Flats.
Later, she was left a farm near Donnellys Crossing when her brother died unexpectedly. Due to the isolated nature of this work, she took it upon herself to travel into Dargaville for art classes.
When she moved into town, Jean established her own gallery and filled it with paintings of scenes captured around New Zealand and from her extensive travels to Europe, America, England and Africa.
To celebrate the gallery’s 20th anniversary, Jean will be holding a special exhibition sale from September 12–27 with the gallery closed on Wednesdays.