Creative flair on show in Methven

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Artist Susie Millichamp in her new gallery.

Creative couple Susie and Stephen Millichamp have opened a gallery in Methven to showcase their art and weaving creations.

The couple who run a red deer farm in Staveley manage to find time for their art with Susie specialising in watercolours and Stephen weaving baskets.

Susie is also a popular teacher taking watercolour classes at The Drawing Room in Christchurch and Oamaru Arts Society.

Susie said with covid the classes were on hold, “so it’s good to have this open.”

Locals have welcomed the new gallery, with one lady saying, “it’s great having as many as possible so it’s another reason for people to come to Methven.”

Susie finds plenty of inspiration in her home region.

“Mid Canterbury is really good because I like painting outdoors, en plein air, and the scenery is amazing.

“I used to ski a lot so would paint Mt Hutt, and that’s probably why I like painting snow,” she said.

Snow covered mountains feature in many of Susie’s work.

“The secret to capturing snow is using different shades of blue or purple, capturing the shadow, the tonal values of light, watercolour is about capturing light,” she said.

Stephen’s passion for weaving started when he took a basket weaving class in Wanaka, Susie said.

“He really took to it, he grows the willow for the baskets at home now.”

After a day working on the farm Stephen likes to sit at the kitchen table and craft baskets.

Susie’s art is gaining international attention, having been invited by Water Colour NZ to exhibit in an international exhibition in Perth this April, commenting on her ‘loose and vibrant’ style.

Susie prefers to stay true to her creative process and doesn’t offer commissions.

“I find it hard to do commissions because it’s someone else’s idea – I paint what comes from my heart, if you want to buy a painting of mine you’ve got to buy it off the wall.

“I’m not going to paint what’s in your heart, I have had anxiety before and my husband Stephen said ‘you have to keep your artist integrity’, it sounds a bit heavy but you have to know your own limits.”

The Art & Baskets gallery is open Thursday to Sunday, 39 McMillan Street, Methven, next to Topp Country Cafe.

~ By Daniel Tobin