Graham Christensen’s paintings depict his lifelong love for agriculture. Photo / Provided
It’s a classic rural scene. Sheep huddle together – staring eyes. The dogs are getting closer – they have a job to do. Ready for Shearing by painter Manawatū Graham Christensen is one of the works in his latest exhibition, Our Rural Environs.
Christensen lives on a farm near Palmerston North and paints from his light-flooded studio – a converted room at the back of the barn.
A charity close to his heart is the Manawatū Rural Support Service, which specializes in supporting the stability and well-being of farmers and their families. Proceeds from the sale of Ready for Shearing will be donated to the charity.
Christensen’s paintings depict his lifelong love for agriculture and the unique landscape New Zealand has to offer. His latest works are captured moments, many of which come from his son’s cattle farm in the Pohangina Valley. They exemplify the peaceful beauty that surrounds us – if we take the time to seek it out.
Christensen was looking for some form of relaxation when he picked up a brush in his early 60s – and saw a life-changing improvement in his mental health.
“Painting is so peaceful, for me it’s like meditation. You are very attentive when you paint, you concentrate on the painting and the movement of the brush. You don’t think of anything else and that makes my mind very quiet and spacious.”
Another benefit is that he now sees beauty in places he previously considered ordinary. He is always looking for inspiration or a new scene to paint and has learned that by just taking a moment to stop and really look around, there is beauty everywhere.
A crowd of cows with their calves ruminate peacefully on a sunny afternoon, the contrast of light and shadows along the fern-lined bank of a meandering stream, even a friendly conversation between farmers in the stockyards evokes in the viewer a memory or feeling that you instinctively know this very scene – and that you are somehow part of the story.
What: Our rural surroundings
When: January 31 to February 18
Where: Feilding Art Center