Auckland artist Rachel Rush sometimes works in abstract resins, and sometimes in graffiti: She says the distinct styles reflect two sides of her personality, the sensible grown-up and the rebel.
She lives in Hauraki with her husband, Graham Rush, and three children, Honor, 17, Hunter, 19, and Piper, 22.
We built this house four years ago. We’d lived on the section for 14 years in a 1920s bungalow. It was falling apart. You’d mow the lawn and the weatherboards would fly off.
A hoarder had lived there. In the old bathroom, there was a boarded-in bath that turned out to be an old clawfoot. We had that refurbished, and it’s moved with us into the new house.
Graham and I are both very creative. The new house lived in our heads for 14 years. It had to be built.
It had to have a bedroom each and a spare room, and an internal garden. As you walk into the front door, there’s a void that goes up the two storeys and it rains inside the house. We have a kauri tree in there.
We didn’t put heaps of insulation in the roof so when you lie in bed, you can hear the rain. It’s beautiful.
The rest of the house just came together from the dream list. It’s cantilevered concrete, steel, and glass. I didn’t want any wood in the house.
We’d renovated about seven houses before this and if we’d done something before we weren’t allowed to re-use it. Even colours, or the copper we’d used before. It was a little design challenge.
We love the children being here. I really enjoy their company – they’re really cool people. We put in a pool so that they can grow with the house, and hopefully stay as long as they want to.
I have three studios within the house. Upstairs is meant to be a shared office, but it’s mine. Outside I have a courtyard area where I do my spray-painting. That’s a mess because it’s covered in overspray. And I have an indoors studio where I do my resin-pouring.
I usually get up, do a work out, and then get to work. I’m a bit addicted to what I do. I’m really happy in here all day, untidy and working.
I’m currently working on 40 paintings for each side of me, for Art in the Park. We’re finally getting international art fairs starting up again. Some new work has just left for Melbourne.
I have big dreams. I want to take the next step which is to focus internationally, to grow.
I worked for Kozmik Klothing in Devonport fresh out of school. At 16, you’d go into work, be covered in paint and not wear shoes, create say 30 sweatshirts a week.
We let our children leave school early too. We told them: ‘Off you go. Find what you love.’ We believe if you find something that sets your heart on fire and you love it, you’ll end up doing well with it.
Both my girls are in fashion, one’s a production assistant at Storm clothing, and my youngest is a stylist at October Reign in Newmarket. Graham’s a CEO of a branding and fit-out company, and Hunter’s a project manager there.
Graham also runs me. I can’t use a computer or anything like that, I don’t know the password to it. I call him “Graham from accounts”, “Graham from logistics”.
I have no interest in technology. I think it’s anything to do with numbers. My dad wanted me to be an accountant but if we go over the numbers, I literally fall asleep.
When I was 21, I had meningitis. I had 24 hours to live and when I came through it, it was the best lesson in life. I thought, What if that was it? And then I thought, every day has to be amazing. That’s when I switched it to being about the art.
I’m super grateful because it made me realise you only have one shot. And it’s great if you can wake up every day so excited.
The two sides of my work show the two sides of my personality. One grown-up, sensible, mature and the other one is more of a rebel and doesn’t like being told what to do.
Art is just really how I use my voice. I’m probably quite a shy person, and that’s why those two sides represent who I am.
*Rachel Rush is one of about 100 New Zealand artists exhibiting at Auckland’s Art in the Park from September 8 to 11.
Watch as 100 artists prepare to display their work at Art in the Park.
For the first time since 2017, the work of Tim Wilson will be exhibited outside of his Queenstown gallery.