Gestural and emotive, Ruby's paintings have an irrepressible spontaneity. She enjoys the fluidity of painting and how it can engage with the sensation of movements and feelings.

Ruby Wilkinson is a Pōneke-based artist who draws inspiration from the environment around her – in particular the rugged South Coast of Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington.

Gestural and emotive, her paintings have an irrepressible spontaneity. Ruby enjoys the fluidity of painting and how it can engage with the sensation of movements and feelings.

Her colour palette references aspects of the environment that she holds dear – the early morning dawn, the ripple of waves on the ocean, the dense native bush around Titirangi where she grew up — earthy browns, ochre yellows, forest greens and ocean blues appearing again and again on the exposed canvas and linen. Her compositions dance between opposites — one work might be full of dense blocks of colour, while another holds vast areas of naked canvas. Heavy purposeful outlines are juxtaposed with flowing clusters of looping lines, an exercise in cursive, with brush strokes so soft and feather-light, as if on a single thin ribbon that might unravel with a gentle tug. Along with a recent series titled Orchestra Paintings, these works exude an acute sense of immediacy and motion.

Ruby is inspired by the Japanese practice of forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku: a way of taking in nature through the senses, which, unlike exercising, has aimlessness at its heart. It is an attempt at just being in nature and connecting. With their fugitive and dynamic character, Ruby’s paintings make us alert to the mercurialness of their form — which is to say, they make us present and acutely sensate, if only for a moment 

Ruby is a graduate from Massey University School of Art, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington and won the New Zealand Paint and Printmaking Award in 2022. Her first solo exhibition, Sun Room, ran at Jhana Millers from 18 August to 10 September — view the exhibition here. Ruby recently collaborated with local company Yu Mei to produce a series of custom-painted handbags for the launch of their Spring Summer 22 collection. View the video Aidan Rogers made for the project below, and read about Ruby's project on the Yu Mei website here.

Installation shots