Jan Gosling lives in one of Waipawa’s older villas, a place of character and family memories. Her great-grandmother lived here and since then various members of Jan’s Bibby family have occupied the house, including her grandparents and mother. She and her husband Murray came here with their children 31 years ago.

In this very real sense, it’s their family home and during the winter months this Waipawa sculptor turns her thoughts to painting, recording family stories that are depicted through images of native flowers and birds. During the summer months she works out in her garden sculpting Oamaru stone forms for which she is well known. But when the winter comes around and the conditions are too bleak for the outdoor work, she paints in the shed.

This winter has been one of wonderful creativity, painting fence-sized panels on board with images of significance to her and her garden environment, stories springing from memories of family and associations with the birds and plants that she holds very dear.

This winter’s panels are in the back garden where there are lots of native trees from her grandfather’s time, each panel has its own little garden space allocated to it where it is attached to the corrugated iron fence. 

“One is in my great-grandmother’s garden where her lily-of-the-valley and primroses grow and the panels reflect that. Mum died two years ago and I’ve been thinking of her a lot, remembering times with her and Dad.” Another panel remembers her uncle who died from appendicitis as teenager, not before he had planted the rose known by the family as ‘Uncle Mick’s Rose’. 

“This year I have been painting a few more panels for an area with a few natives,” she says. “These are stories of Mum and Dad that have come to mind. They were very into native bush – there are paintings of rata, clematis and kowhai with the birds that visit the garden.”

Other panels show stylized paintings of kowhai and tui, photographed during her painting process, another shows punga and the little native fuchsia procumbens that creeps on the ground. Jan Gosling posts her stories on her Facebook page and I recommend a visit.

“I hear the grey warbler (riroriro) every day, soon the shining cuckoo (pīpīwharauroa) will arrive both with their wonderful songs and I think of the annual ritual whereby the cuckoo lays its egg in the warbler’s nest,” so beginning the annual cycle of exploitation of the tiny warbler, as the cuckoo lays its egg and disappears leaving the little bird to raise the much larger young cuckoo that promptly ejects her own babies from the nest. 

Through her creativity Jan is very connected with her old garden and home in Rose Street, Waipawa and finds great joy in her work.

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