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Creativity a lifesaver for artist

EMILY NORMAN

Patricia Pye sees creativity as a lifesaver.

Living with bipolar disorder, creativity has been, and always will be, her outlet.

But with such a passion for the arts and an abundance of talent, it’s surprising that she has only recently held her first exhibition of works titled Where Life Takes Me.

And it was Heart of Arts in Carterton that played host, with volunteers dubbing Pye “the real deal”.

Pye, who moved to New Zealand from the UK in 2009, works in oils and acrylics.

She also has talent in other creative areas which has led her to craft her own jewellery and designer products, using her art.

“Every piece in this exhibition has a story,” she said.

“They are standalone pieces but they all connect to each other and to me.”

Her title piece Where Life Takes me was the first artwork she did when she came to New Zealand and is a vivid scenery depicting a country road to infinity.

Her other exhibited works portray country scenes from Gladstone, her paddock on Connelly’s Line, and the “abandoned house down in Greytown”, among others.

A most telling piece however, which gives a deeper insight into her childhood is called “The 1800s girl”.

“I was an abused child physically and mentally,” she said.

Her abuse included being “locked in the under stairs cupboard for hours on end and in the dark”.

“There was just enough room for me to crouch as a four-year-old.

“When I was too big to go in there then it was my bedroom wardrobe.

“That picture reminded me of how I felt when I was in that cupboard.”

But not all is hopeless in Pye’s journey.

Some of her work features butterflies – a symbol of her mental health transformation over the years.

“I got better after 35 years of being ill, which is unknown.

“To an extent I managed to go from a nervous panic attack, agoraphobic, claustrophobic person in the house who couldn’t go out to actually moving to the other side of the world over a few years.

“A lot of people here know me as a confident outgoing person, but the ones closest to me know there is another side to me.”

Pye said she was involved with instigating the very first mental health crisis unit in the world.

“The very first one was set up in the inner city of Bristol and I set it up with the clinical manager.

“I was the admin but I was in the front line.

“Once we set up the team, all of England based their mental health unit crisis teams on ours and it got worldwide within a very short amount of time.”

Accompanying her artworks in the exhibition are three written panels focused solely on mental health.

The first one reads, “Creativity saves lives… literally”.

Heart of Arts volunteer and artist Dra McKay said Pye embodied the kaupapa of the arts hub.

“I’d like to say, on behalf of Heart of Arts, we are immensely proud and pleased to be holding Patricia’s first ever exhibition,” she said.

“This is a community gallery that’s not about judging or evaluating art, it’s about celebrating art and supporting artists and keeping the creatives in the community well, and hence the community well.”

Patricia Pye’s exhibition ran until November 8.

The gallery is open daily, 10am until 5pm weekdays and 10am until 2pm weekends.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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