Artist Profile

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Jill Smith

Auckland New Zealand

Jill is a New Zealander of Pakeha (England) and Maori descent (Tainui), born in Whangarei in 1953 and currently living on the Awhitu Peninsula, south-west of Auckland. Her growing up years were spent in Whangarei, Geelong & Melbourne (Australia), Auckland and Palmerston North. While training to be a teacher in Palmerston North, she studied art as a special focus, and went on to teach a range of age levels and curriculum areas, including art, from lower primary through to high school year ten. After marrying Don and in the midst of raising four children together, Jill went on to study and work in education, church ministry, counselling and art therapy - integrating interests in creativity, learning, Christian theology and ministry, and health and wholeness for individuals, groups and communities.

Jill’s art practice has woven through different seasons of family, work and community life. A consistent theme has been an interest in exploring the significance of the Divine Presence as the integrating factor and the source and purpose of all creation – every created thing. Colossians 1:15-23 in the MESSAGE translation of the Bible describes this nicely:

“We look at this Son (Jesus) and see the God who cannot be seen and see God’s original purpose in everything created… everything got started in him and finds its original purpose in him… So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken, dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animal and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.”

Jill’s art bears witness to a life-long experience of seeing, feeling, being immersed in and deeply moved by the landscape of Aotearoa, and within it, an awareness of the Divine Presence. Early challenges, with the death of her mother, changes in family dynamics and battles with her health, awakened in Jill a desire to understand and experience the harmonising, healing, integrating way of Jesus for herself, and also for others. The therapeutic value she experienced in creating art, later led her to further exploration, through a M.A. Arts Therapy offered by Whitecliffe College of Fine Art, completing with honours in 2006. Her thesis researched and proposed an Art Therapy approach that integrated Christian spirituality and world view in safe and effective practice.

Jill has participated in a few group and solo exhibitions and now works from her studio in Pukekohe, where she is in the early stages of helping to establish a space to help foster community amongst artists of faith in the region. She sees artists as having the potential to be redemptive, transformative, prophetic influences within and for the benefit of their communities. Her hope is to participate in a grass-roots movement of creative peacemakers who faithfully work at and offer their art to help to heal, restore and reconcile all sorts of out-of-joint-ness in our world today.

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