Land Girls and Lifesavers, painting by Sally Spicer

Navy officer flyer

In Land Girls and Lifesavers, Sally Spicer has created paintings and prints that observe the varied lives and contributions of New Zealand women during World War II. Sally, who specialises in portraiture, worked from black and white photos from the 1930s and 40s to explore her subject.

Three ladies

Three ladies, Sally Spicer.

Some of the works show women who went to war: as nurses, and as naval officers. However, the continuation of daily life has received the larger part of Sally’s attention, as she venerates the smaller moments in these women’s lives, as mothers, friends and wives. There are the women who fulfilled roles vacated by men; such as the so called “land girls” who worked on farms, and the volunteer surf lifesavers. The mundane, the challenging, and the joyful moments are treated with equal respect.


Waiata, Sally Spicer.

Sally’s works in oil paint re-imagine her subjects in full, rich colour. She pays special attention to fabric and pattern, hinting at her interest in the small details. The drypoint and linocut prints show a simplified, graphic technique, and Sally’s strong background in drawing. Sally enjoys vintage style, so the hair and clothing of this time were a big attraction for her. Her endless fascination with people, faces and expressions is explored also, and she enjoyed the opportunity to observe the way faces can differ from era to era.

Sally works from a studio at her home in Whangarei.

In Conversation

In Conversation, Sally Spicer.

Exhibition runs from August 10 – August 24, at Yvonne Rust Gallery, Quarry Arts Centre, Whangarei. More details at on the Facebook event page.

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