Having recently completed Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design studies at EIT’s ideaschool, Julienne Dickey is to embark on a third master’s degree next year – at the age of 68.
Being older, Julienne explains, she very much appreciates the opportunity she has to explore her creativity. “I’ve got perhaps 10 years of productive life left and I don’t want to waste that time.”
Not able to draw as a youngster, she came bottom of her fourth form art class and went on to pursue other subjects at her Auckland school.
Her academic direction saw her gain master’s degrees in anthropology and social care and management and her working life, which started with teaching, largely centred on management jobs in London and Scotland.
Meanwhile, the creative seeds were beginning to sprout.
In the early ‘90s, when she was in her early 40s, Julienne started doing cartoons, attending a class in London and illustrating a friend’s book – a how-to on choosing a secondary school.
In Scotland, she joined a painting class and for the next four or five years painted “pretty pictures” of scenery.
“I found I wasn’t too bad at it,” she says of working in oils. “If my partner likes them they go up on the walls.”
Julienne’s appreciation of art and art history developed with visits to art galleries around Europe. In July 2014, after living overseas for 39 years, she moved to Hawke’s Bay with her Scottish partner Linda, primarily for the region’s weather.
Linda found work and settled in well, but Julienne, flummoxed by unexpectedly chilly temperatures, suffered a short period of depression.
“I wondered what on earth I’d done coming back to New Zealand,” she recalls.
To lift her mood, she enrolled for a te reo Māori programme at Te Ūranga Waka and it was there that she heard about a 12-week level 3 art programme starting at EIT the following week.
“That was the end of my blues,” she says of taking up that opportunity.
Julienne started the short course with no intention of progressing to the degree.
“Then I thought, what the hell. I didn’t have to work anymore and there were no big spending demands. Now, looking back, I can see how much my art has developed and how much I’ve learnt, as well as having a really good time.
“I really like that the ideaschool programmes are hands on. The lecturers are good, you get lots of encouragement and support. I don’t think I could have done it anywhere else.”
Julienne has also enjoyed having her own on-campus studio space, from where she has produced a work featuring quirky ceramic figures set on a fragmented chess board.
“I’ve used them as a metaphor for patriarchal authority, warfare and chess competition. Chess has lots of rules and is very much about hierarchy, order, rationality and self-containment.
“My work depicts people behaving in ways they’re not supposed to, disrupting the narrative of chess.”
Julienne will continue at ideaschool, working with ceramics for her Master of Creative Practice. Once she’s gained that, she hopes to work in arts administration while continuing to create art.