Pumpkin Hill Haven: The Studio of Paula McNeill

  • 24 May 2018
  • Sarah Holden

Nestled in the idyllic bush on Pumpkin Hill, Tairua, the studio of Paula McNeill is clearly a working space: paints, tools and mediums lay scattered across almost all surfaces, shelves bow with stacks of paper, unfinished canvases rest comfortably on tables. But there's order amidst the chaos - arranged to a logic only the artist herself would understand. 

Built as a detached space alongside her stunning Tuscan-style home sixteen years ago, Paula envisioned her studio to be a haven where she could paint freely; a peaceful space where she could enjoy time in solitude and allow her creative energy to simmer. 

Since then it has seen the presence of many local and international artists and guests, and used as a place to hold workshops and meetings - most recently including printmaking workshops with the new Coromandel collective 'Printmakers Combined', to which she belongs. The light, spacious interior with plenty of sturdy working surfaces makes it the perfect venue to host a small group of artists, while the generous wall area allows Paula to test her works before exhibiting them in the gallery. An unexpected highlight is the 'Tribute to Hundertwasser' bathroom, where mosaic tiles are collaged in a colourful array across the walls.  

Three special regular visitors include Paula's grandchildren, all aged between five and seven. Creativity it would seem runs in the family, with Paula's 'Art Class' a favourite with the children in the school holidays - their creations are proudly framed and occupy a permanent spot in the studio!

Struck by inspiration and creative flow night or day without warning, Paula is often found in the early hours painting away in the studio - 'Many hours are spent painting through the night, waiting for the bellbird's song in the morning telling me, "It's time to sleep now".' 

Enjoy a visual tour of Paula's studio through our photo diary below! Click each image to expand.

Please join us next Sunday 3 June for 'Printmaking Through the Eyes of a Painter': an up-close and personal demonstration in collograph printmkaing by Paula McNeill at our Whangamata gallery!


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