Paula in her Surfdale workshop. Photos Sandra Chesterman

One of the most vibrant works in the current Members’ Show at the Waiheke Community Art Gallery: Te Whare Taonga o Waiheke is Morado/Purple by Surfdale textile artist Paula Richa – a richly coloured abstract work created in fabric rather than paint, its slick surface further intensifying the colours.

Trained in textile design in her native Chile, Paula came to New Zealand in 1999 to learn English,  later marrying and settling here. It was while working for a local fashion designer that she began her move to art-making. “The designer had these floaty fabrics that her mother would get in India and which would be cut in her Ponsonby workshop. For my thesis in design I had created a laminated screen using petals and flowers – I was really into nature and working with natural elements.” Paula began to work with the fabric scraps from the workshop, initially laminating them before discarding that process as too artificial. The next step was to apply cut and shaped pieces of fabric to canvases. Ten years ago she moved with her husband to Waiheke, deciding at that point to focus on textile art.

• Sandra Chesterman – The Arts

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