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Macfarlane, Rachel Kay

Rachel Macfarlane, Wellington watercolourist, became a member of Watercolour New Zealand in 2013. Her watercolours are influenced by her love of colour, texture and pattern and her strong interest in the applied arts.

Growing up she received lots of encouragement from her father, Robin Kay, one of New Zealand’s foremost watercolourists, to explore watercolour painting and printmaking.

After graduating from university she worked as an administrator and cultural exchange manager for a few years. But needing to do something more creative, in her late twenties she changed tack and studied textile design at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design. This led to work as a designer of woven products, historic wallpaper reconstruction and the teaching of textile design and drawing.

Her life took another turn when she married a New Zealand diplomat and headed off with him to the Middle East. On her return to New Zealand she taught clothing and textiles at a secondary school and then introductory courses in design at Wellington Polytechnic. She edited and produced the layout of the history “Anthony Wall, Settler of Porirua, the Papakowhai Story” written by her mother, Barbara Kay, which was published in 1996.

In 2000 she became the manager and administrator the New Zealand Cartoon Archive to which she brought her interest in and knowledge of New Zealand history and politics and her experience in the fields of design, fine art, cultural exchange and education. She worked alongside the Cartoon Archive Trust chairman and the staff of the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington in the production of exhibitions and books to promote public awareness of the intrinsic interest and usefulness of cartoons. Her work included the cataloguing and indexing of cartoons. Staring at thousands of cartoons over this period of time had an inevitable effect on how she sees the world.

After Barbara Kay died in 2001, Rachel’s father, Robin Kay, came to live with her and her husband Ross. Rachel and Robin share a studio and Robin’s ongoing artistic activities continue to keep Rachel busy. Since leaving the New Zealand Cartoon Archive in 2005 she has had a bit more time to pursue her interests in watercolour painting, photography, family history, and the propagation and cultivation of native trees.

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