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We were delighted to sit down with Ruby Burke and speak with her about her forthcoming art exhibition, her journey as a young artist, and her future plans.

We have been lucky to have got to know Ruby over the years by framing her work. It has been amazing to watch her develop and emerge as a talented, mindful and astute young artist. We have been impressed by her ability to understand and own her own unique approach, and to not only create, but also to sell her artwork. Mastering the balance between commercialisation and creativity is an art form in and of itself; one in which Ruby has found her own place perfectly.

Ruby is a painter and her kind and gentle nature is reflected in her work. She loves to paint girls, butterflies and birds, but not for the reasons you might think. When we asked her why she often features women and animals in her work, she explains she is motivated by the fact that these subjects bring people joy. The style is feminine, gentle, and has a whimsical flavour to it; the lightness of her work portrays movement, elegance and softness. It is beautiful!

Ruby’s kindness and generosity shine through in her work and in her approach to art. Her end focus is joy for the viewer or owner, and she has built ‘giving’ into her exhibition, where 20% of the proceeds (donation on entry) are given to KidsCan. Ruby is thinking beyond the canvas and beyond herself; a unique and treasured sentiment in our modern world!

Although Ruby brings a light touch to the game, she is fierce in her work ethic and commitment to her craft. On a family holiday when she was 13 years old she saw an art studio for the first time and said to her Dad, who is a builder, “Dad, what do I have to do to get one of those?” He made her a deal that if she raised $2,000, he would build one for her. Ruby spent the summer picking fruit and doing odd jobs to raise the $2,000 to go towards her own studio space. She is determined, smart and willing to do the hard work and we love this!

You will find Ruby painting in her studio every weekend. She has the very busy schedule of a high school senior student but she dedicates specific time to paint. Her commitment to painting is structured, but she also leaves room for thinking. On weekdays, when she is busy with school, she is also ruminating and cementing her ideas to work on when she gets to the studio. Basically, she lets the ideas percolate and prepares to capture the creativity at the weekend: genius!

Once Ruby hits the studio she likes to paint on MDF sheets that we prepare for her here at The 45th Degree. She likes the smoothness of the surface and she uses ultra-dry acrylic paint and a scumble-like technique. Her work holds her attention and she says she pours a piece of herself into every one of her works. She is happy to paint with either music or silence and she can disappear for hours in the creative process. She finds joy in the ‘making’ but bringing joy to others through her work is where the real sense of fulfilment comes in for Ruby.

For Ruby each artwork represents a little piece of her; having nurtured the work to life, she feels they contain a part of her. Her connection to her work raises a strong sense of guardianship and protection, yet equally her kind-hearted nature motivates her to pass the art and joy on to others. But not before she has framed it!

Ruby’s love for framing is connected to this sense of kaitiaki, her desire to take care of and safeguard the work for the future. As they are precious pieces of her, she values not only the aesthetic value of quality framing, but also the protection and preservation quality framing offers. We are always intrigued by her frame choice; she chooses high-quality materials and unique molding. The finished work always looks stunning and she describes that final reveal as being like getting a present!

We are super stoked to work with Ruby. We are really proud of how far she has come and we look forward to seeing where she takes this. Ruby is off to do a Fine Arts Degree in Wellington next year; the course has a strong business focus and we know Ruby will thrive.

We highly recommend you check out her self-titled exhibition show at the Lake Wanaka Centre on Saturday 20 June. Entry is by donation and 20% of profits are going to KidsCan. Go along, donate generously and snap up some of Ruby’s beautiful work. They will be long-term treasures for you to enjoy.