Artist Jane Sinclair’s initial reaction to receiving the email from the Prime Minister’s Office [PMO] informing her she was to be made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit [MNZM] was she’d been elaborately scammed.
“I thought they’ve obviously got the wrong person. And then I thought, ‘Is it a spammy thing?’”
Once convinced she was the intended recipient and the PMO wasn’t subject to “a security breach”, Sinclair felt “totally overwhelmed. It was really a very emotional thing that someone would be so kind to nominate me.”
Sinclair’s MNZM for services to art and education follows a diverse and industrious career as a professional wildlife and landscape artist, and adult educator and mentor, spanning more than 30 years.
She began painting architectural watercolours to help earn money while studying architecture at the University of Auckland, ramping up this part of her creative practice once she graduated in 1990 and struggled to find architectural work.
Sinclair first exhibited at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in 1991 and was soon invited to teach at Inverlochy Art School in Wellington.
“And that’s how it started. I didn’t mean to do teaching,” Sinclair said. “I was lucky, I suppose, I started teaching early in my career, so I’ve sort of grown as a teacher as I’ve grown as an artist.”
Starting in 1996, she taught at several adult education and art centres in Wairarapa, and has provided adult art education classes at the Masterton Art Club and private tuition in the region since 2010.
Today her popular evening class, which runs four times a week, has a waitlist for new students of over a year.
“The classes are full of long-term students – so they come for six weeks, and then they never leave!” Sinclair said. “We’ve become this great sort of community of artists together, and I learn from them.”
Acknowledging she’s “made every mistake in the book”, Sinclair encourages budding artists to embrace them.
“Mistakes are great, that’s where you learn. You’re going to make a lot of them, but I’m here to guide you on that journey and fast-track it.”
Sinclair has served as president of the Masterton Art Club and was the founding chair of the ConArt Gallery art collective, established in 2016.
The MNZM is “a thank you to all my friends and family who have supported me through this very long journey,” Sinclair said, “because I couldn’t have done it without them.”