Background Information Relating to Being a Guest Artist at the 'Edge of the World' Exhibition at Waikawa in The Catlins, NZ, Feb-Mar 2020
Jackie has always been interested in art and creativity. She has been making quilts since about 1987.
Jackie started to make a living as an artist creating and repairing leadlight windows. She worked from rented premises and later from home.
She helped to create the leadlight windows in the Nelson Museum.
She designed and helped to build the windows on the first floor of historic Marsden House in Nelson.
She was commissioned to design a further series of windows for Marsden House. She created the patterns and cut the glass for the people who will be building and installing the windows. She no longer works on leadlight windows and she has sold or given away most of her supplies. However she may occasionally assist others with window design if she has the time.
While working with window glass, Jackie became interested in fusible glass. She made platters and decorative items, but found that people preferred to buy jewellery. She made pendants, earrings and bracelets using dichroic glass.
She started to experiment with making pictures using the glass and was encouraged when people bought them. Initially she mounted her pictures on a sheet of glass in a wooden frame… then experimented with coloured ceramic tiles as a base. Nowadays nearly all her wall hangings have a stainless steel frame.
Jackie began to operate a stall regularly at the Nelson Market. In the picture above you can see the glass jewellery mounted on cloth-covered polystyrene sheets that fit inside a wooden picture frame. On the left is a ‘mosaic mirror’ which she also made a few of.
Around 2008, Stephen started to help make the jewellery and operate the market stalls. They started going to the Motueka Market. To make things easier, they made display boxes to hold the jewellery which could be simply closed up and packed into their vehicle.
Sometimes we had some great market days at Picton. These mostly coincided with cruise ship visits.
We also set up sales stands at some Dunkley’s Craft Markets and at the Ellerslie Flower shows in Auckland and Christchurch.
We operated our stall at the Nelson Market for around eight years. As we started to make bigger pieces from glass, we realised that the Market was not the best place to sell them. It was hard to display the big pieces, and it was risky to do it as it often got very windy. Sometimes it was a battle to keep our gazebo on the ground.
Not long before we started to produce our stainless steel and glass hangings, we thought it would be fun to attend a portrait drawing class. At the end of the course Stephen was pretty happy with his ability to capture a likeness using pencil (picture on the left)… while Jackie could achieve a likeness in pleasing colour using pastels.
“Sparrows” in acrylic paint by Jackie.
“Shag, Nelson Harbour”. Pastel. Jackie MacDonald.
“Motueka Marina”. Pastel. Jackie MacDonald
“Mapua”. Acrylic on board. Jackie MacDonald.
We continued to make jewellery, but our bigger work evolved, improved and was more interesting to create. We felt market stalls were not the ideal place to offer the bigger work for sale. Furthermore our jewellery sales were dropping…. perhaps because it was no longer a novelty, and possibly because people could get more bling for their buck with the increasing amount of cheap imported jewellery on offer.
Around this time there were a few vacant shops around Nelson. Jackie joined a group of artists that were setting up a gallery in a small vacant building. The landlord was very generous and our rent was low. After a while, the landlord found a long term tenant and we had to move. The ‘leader’ of this first gallery went and set up another gallery of her own. The rest of the group followed one of our group who boldly decided that a large, vacant ex-clothing store on the main street was where we should go next. It had some decent street front windows and was in an excellent location. We were successful in obtaining the use of the building with the understanding that we would have to leave at short notice should a long-term tenant want to move in. We have to pay a pretty hefty rent (for us) and a relatively huge electricity bill every month. Each of the founding ‘members’ rents space, takes a turn at operating the gallery, and pays a modest commission on each sale. The surplus space is rented out to guest artists who pay a higher commission when something is sold. We are fortunate that all the members are enthusiastic workers as we could not afford to employ staff. Some artists sell a lot of items, others sell just a few. But we all need each other for the gallery to survive.
The picture above shows the new ‘Arty Nelson’ sign that Stephen mounted on top of the old ‘Shanton’ sign using double-sided tape and heavy monofilament fishing nylon.
The gallery pays artists each week for any sales made during the previous seven day period.
Arty Nelson Gallery interior.
The sales counter.
We live in Todd Valley which is located about nine kilometres from the Nelson City centre. The arrow shows the location of our house… which is in the floor of the valley about 1.5 km from the sea.
Here’s our house. It sits on a small section. You may be able to see the set of four leadlight windows on the left side of the house. These are sandwiched within the double glazing. The low trees between the house and the footpath are mandarins which look great when the fruit is ripe.
We like to grow fruit and vegetables. This picture was taken around early November. Stephen enjoys growing open-pollinated tomatoes. We had some other images of our back yard to post here, but they didn’t upload because the file size was too big and we ran out of time.
Here’s the glass studio.
Jackie engraving, using a rotary burr.
Mounting decorative items on clear glass to create a picture. We use UV glue for this. We hasten the setting process by shining an ultraviolet flashlight on the glue. We have a large dining table which is handy. It is seldom clear during our busy summer season.
Stephen makes the stainless steel frames and a lot of this work is done in a small shed behind the house. Behind him on the ground is a blacksmith’s swage block. This came from the blacksmith’s shop at the Ministry of Works depot in Nelson where Stephen served his apprenticeship as a Fitter, Turner and Machinist, starting in 1973. When the MOW became Serco… and the Nelson operation was shut down, Stephen bought the swage block which he has become quite attached to.
We make a lot of boxes from recycled cardboard that we obtain from appliance stores. Each wall hanging is generally sold with its own box. And we sometimes have to ship work. We are generally happy about shipping smaller pieces, but following the breakage of an expensive, well-packed, piece that was sent to the UK, we are reluctant to ship our biggest items. If given enough notice we can mount them on toughened glass and spend a lot of time packing them in several cushioning layers to help reduce the risk of damage… but this adds a lot to the price and there is still no guarantee that everything will stay in one piece. We encourage travellers to buy smaller work and carry it home as hand luggage.
Where to from here?
The three items above were collectively selected for first place in the 2014 ‘Dichroic by Design’ competition run by Coatings by Sandberg in the USA. This was a thrill for Jackie and it is possibly a factor behind the increased sales of her work.
Life is fairly busy as we try to keep up with production and help with the operation of the gallery. We are starting to think about what we might do to get a bit more free time and to explore other creative options.