Rachel Rush is a well-known contemporary New Zealand artist, continuing to achieve success on the local and global stage.
Rachel loves the freedom of mixing up acrylics and stains with resin to create beautiful colours and depths within layers of work. There are no hard rules to follow and she enjoys watching each piece take on its own vibrancy and energy. Surprisingly, this talented local artist actually enjoys a fabulous double life. Rachel offers the world another lens through her alter ego RUSH. RUSH is an alternative portfolio of fresh, bold urban art.
With two captivating worlds in play, we loved asking Rachel more about her art and inspirations during this unusual year...
- Who came first; ‘Rachel Rush’ or RUSH?
Probably Rachel Rush, but they both morphed from early beginnings of oil-painted landscapes and Kiwiana… Then I began experimenting with abstracts and colour in acrylic, which also included figurative works that would form the early stages of RUSH. I started experimenting with pouring and colouring my resin to achieve the intense colour and shadow I was interested in.
- Why did you create RUSH?
I'm so fascinated with Street Art and love the finish and versatility from spray cans. I really create what I want to see in my own home. When people ask "what do you do?" and my answer is 'artist', the images I was showing them of what I painted didn't match what I could see in my head. But by creating both Rachel Rush & RUSH I now feel like what you see on the canvas is how I wanted to express myself.
- How would you describe each of your styles?
Rachel Rush is all about movement, colour, shadows, liquid, intense shine. They can be very simple - just one or two colours - or completely over the top with multiple layers of contrasting colour.
RUSH is purely Street Art - I hand cut all my own stencils so I can spray on to a canvas, or onto the street. Big murals are a unique challenge. I love the crispness of a stencil and have learnt to cut the different layers I require to create faces with makeup, eyelashes, shadows...
- Why keep these two styles separate, under two artistic names?
They are both usually very large, loud styles and sometimes appeal to completely different audiences. When I exhibit them, I like them to both own their own space without competing against each other. I mix both styles in my own home, and have many clients do the same, but other people may find it overwhelming to separate them visually. I think this way they stand on their own merit. With two separate names it's clear cut which style of work I'm discussing. When I am working on them, I have a period of a few weeks of just focusing on one side - say Rachel Rush from the beginning of the pieces through to completion, then I turn my attention to RUSH and get outside with my cans and put all my energy into them.
- Where have you exhibited this year?
This year was shaping up to be A M A Z I N G - then of course, along came Covid. All my planned exhibitions moved online or were postponed. I exhibited all around NZ last year, and in Sydney at The Other Art Fair, which was amazing. I'm particularly proud of achieving the Top 10 in the Christchurch Art Show, and a double Top 10 in Dunedin (RR & RUSH) and making the Director's Top 20 picks for Sydney. I've also been accepted to exhibit in Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore, so there is plenty to focus on.
- How do you know when a work is finished?
It just releases you, it's a physical feeling of completion and letting go. To be able to stand back and my mind no longer holds any colour or thought relating to that piece.
- What has inspired you recently?
Inspiration can be so completely random, and the more I work the more it flows. For Rachel Rush it could be a combination of colours on a magazine cover, or on a plate, or pretty much anything involving colour. For RUSH it's a thought process of where my work has come from and how I see the next piece evolving from that. Some pieces you learn a lot from, and I don't like to let go of them before I've taken all of my learning from it. Others feel like the completion of what has come before, and they are the pieces I become most proud of.
I have a continual urge to push myself further, so if I finish a piece that really sings to me, instead of feeling satisfied, I look to find a new way to challenge myself to keep hitting that feeling of accomplishment. It's no good just creating something that I don't find exciting. I love what I do so pushing my creative boundaries constantly is a huge buzz.
- When not creating art, what do you enjoy?
Family time is my absolute favourite thing. A lot of time on the side lines as all my kids play sport. I love running, and have always loved the gym, so that keeps my other love of Chardonnay & Champagne balanced! Time at Kawau Island is the best, and usually involves all of the above.