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Rob Tucker, Devonport NZ

Words & Images by Ophelia Mikkelson

Catching a glimpse into someone else’s world is exactly what happens when walking up to the half open door of Rob Tucker’s studio. Set within the high walls of the historical Devonport Power Station, a building that is pressed up against Mount Victoria, in the seaside town of Devonport – Rob’s second home.

Upon entering his studio your eyes dance. His large paintings line the walls drawing you close. Explorations of colour, pastel greens and soft pinks next to a vibrant yellow in a sea of black.

His famous container ship paintings sit next to his newer subjects depicting objects from Renaissance still lifes: an overflowing vase, blossoming flowers and dripping fruits seen through a Hockney-like tropical haze. Etched into his painting are their juicy titles: Pineapple tarts are yum / Strawberry Jam Sandwich / Sparkling water with a twist of lemon.

The walls here are splattered in years of work, commitment and excitement. Rob’s joy for what he does emanates in this space through both his brush and his kind and playful energy.

 

Your studio has an incredible history; can you share anything about the building’s past? 

It was one of the first public electricity stations built on the North Shore in 1914. I’m very lucky to have a studio with such rich history – it’s been an incredible base for me to develop my style over the last decade.

The building itself has been quite influential on my style – I almost channel the raw aesthetic of the brick interior in to work, leaving my paintings somewhat camouflaged until they’re removed.

How long have you been painting in this space for?

I’ve had the studio since I started, so almost a decade. I’ve had many other studios during overseas residencies, but have always kept Devonport as my fort to return to.

Do you have any daily studio rituals?

I treat my days painting like a 9-5 job, heading to the studio early to have a stovetop coffee and start building into a headspace in order to begin. I need to be surrounded in my organised chaos of paints and boards to achieve this.

Often I’ll leave the studio and that headspace, to do a couple laps at the local pool, and then return with mindset to accomplish.

In these cases, work is laborious but extremely stimulating. When work is frantic, I’m completely immersed and let my subconscious take over so I can somewhat observe myself making the marks and building an aesthetic composition. Ironically, it’s a very free and liberating feeling.

 

What is your favourite colour combination at the moment?  

I’ve just recently introduced bright colours back into my work – which was previously in a more muted phase.

I’m fixated on capturing soft colour against bold, stark colour at the moment. I like to portray a mood, evoking emotion with the juxtaposition of pastel pinks, against bold reds and blacks.

It seems like you have a lot of fun titling your work. How do you name your paintings?

It’s always the last step, and I’m often very unaware of how my painting will turn out until it’s in it’s frame and I’m titling it.

I use my stream of consciousness to title, utilising it like a description on a wine bottle – capturing the flavour and essence of the body inside.

I’m often very unaware of how my painting will turn out until it’s in it’s frame and I’m titling it. I use my stream of consciousness to title, utilising it like a description on a wine bottle – capturing the flavour and essence of the body inside.

Do you have any upcoming shows or fairs where we could see your work?

I’ve got a few international art fairs lined up – it’s a really busy time of year! The next fairs are Seattle Art Fair, Toronto Art Fair and a group show in Copenhagen.

I’m also looking into a solo show for 2018 in Sydney, which I’m really excited about.

 

Do you have any morning rituals?

The morning is the best time to build into a headspace for me. I take my time, go for a run or a swim, to help develop a disciplined headspace in order to create work.

It’s sometimes hard, working alone, to motivate your headspace. So these things all add up to simulate my creative flow and step into my stream of consciousness. It’s almost meditative.

Do you have any bedtime rituals?

Even though I try to treat painting like a 9-5pm, it’s not always the case. I’m very reactive to pressure, and when I have a lot of work on, I submerge myself in it and stay very late into the early mornings getting lost in my paintings.

rob-tucker.com


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