A piece of bubble wrap and Covid-19 were the catalysts for Whanganui artist Fleur Wickes' latest ventures.
Wickes has launched her new central city studio, her new collection Home 2020 and her artist book, Parentheses.
The light-filled Victoria Ave studio was previously the site of women's fashion business Kooky Garments' sewing factory and Wickes is happy to be in a space that has a history of making things.
Wickes and her assistant had been working from Wickes' home but a piece of bubble wrap prompted the search for a new studio.
"My work has increased greatly - it's tripled - in the last year so there were packages everywhere - in the bedroom, the hallway, in the lounge," Wickes said.
"One day I sat down and sat on some bubble wrap and I said 'this is not okay any more'."
The next day she looked online for possible premises and found the Victoria Ave space.
"It's really calm and the light is beautiful," Wickes said.
"Now I have a production area, a painting studio, a writing studio and a place to show people my work. My work is very personal and I like showing it to people in a way that's more personal - it feels like the best way to show my work.
"This is a great space. I have private visits and studio visits on Fridays and Saturdays from 12pm to 2pm or by appointment. It's a really nice space for a studio visit. People often ring if they're passing through town and come in for a visit."
There's still evidence of the premises' previous occupants; especially obvious are the multiple power points that were used for the sewing machines. Wickes is using the former cutting table as her studio painting table.
Her new collection, Home 2020, uses diverse media: photography, written word work and painting.
"It's talking about what home means now in this new way of being," Wickes said.
"I think home is quite different to what it used to be. It can be an internal return to your own centre, decorating a space to feel your own and it's also a connection with other people.
"The collection is a bit more open, a bit gentler. I've been exploring colour. A lot of it is made from Parentheses as a beginning and making artwork from that."
Parentheses is the result of Wickes' response to New Zealand's Covid-19 lockdown.
She spent lockdown with her partner in Wellington. A last-minute dash to a shop to buy coloured pencils and a sketchbook has resulted in work in her new collection with more colour than her previous collections.
"I made one picture a day over lockdown and posted them on social media," she said.
"Retrospectively, I decided it would be a good book. It's about everyday feelings and how it was for me - highs and lows. It's a memento of that time in all of our lives.
"In that time we were inside these brackets of a completely different time and way of working. There's a life before and there's a life after.
"I experienced things as I do but it was heightened. Work was heightened, love was heightened. I experienced great joy and great anger."
Wickes said there was an "epic" reaction to the collection at the launch on November 14.
"The response to my new painting work was really great. Some people cried about the book and it really resonated. It's very personal and people can really relate to it because, underneath, we all experience the same things. I was really chuffed with the responses."
Wickes' Art House initiative, where she displays her work in someone's home and people are invited to view it, is currently on hold.
"It's almost like a pop-up where people can ask questions and look at the work properly. I've done Art Houses in Queenstown, Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North. I have a big connection with people online so it's nice to connect in real life as well.
"I really love having ownership and control of my work and how it's seen. It takes a lot of work to do that - the framework is exactly as I want it to be.
"I enjoy doing it myself rather than through a gallery because then I get that connection. People talk about me saying things they can't articulate but are feeling.
"It's nice to be in a quiet town like Whanganui and then take my work out to New Zealand.
"I'll see what 2021 brings. I might do it [Art Houses] again but I think at the moment people are really sick of their houses."
• The Home 2020 collection can be viewed online at fleurwickes.co.nz