I'm a 50-something, white, middle class woman who paints. This smacks of privilege. I acknowledge white privilege and recognise this in a world that still discriminates on the basis of ethnicity, class and gender. But appearances can be misleading and I refuse to be typecast.

I'm from Scottish, working class stock. My father was a boxer and a miner. His father was a boxer and a gold miner. I was brought up in a poor, multi-cultural inner city neighbourhood in Auckland, Aotearoa (New Zealand). Grey Lynn is now a millionaire's paradise but when I lived there it was a hard edged, tough environment with a bad reputation for danger and crime. Despite this, Grey Lynn had its own riches. I was immersed in a diverse mix of cultures and strong sense of community. Tangata whenua (Maori - Aotearoa's indigenous culture), were predominant and there were immigrants from all over the Pacific. I was in the minority, but never experienced discrimination from my friends and peers. But from a very young age I did witness discrimination against my friends and experience white privilege. It repulsed me and still does. It was expressed by teachers and various 'authorities' who swooped into our neighbourhood. My family and our Scottish traditions aligned with Maori cultural traditions. I have two half sisters and their mother was Maori (Ngapuhi). These early days formed a strong sense of social justice in me and a commitment to call out and counter racism wherever it arises. 

Education in all forms was valued by my family - it was a way out of poverty. My mother instilled a love for art - looking at it, reading about it and making it. My father's alcoholism and the ongoing psychological devastation from two world wars filled our home with stress and sadness.

I was orphaned from age 13. My two brothers and I lived on our wits, evading social services. I never forgot where I was from or the value of education. I worked from the age of 15. Later I put myself through Law School, and recently completed Art School. Being a lawyer was all about social justice. Being an artist is my calling. I feel lucky to paint and have engineered my life to find ways to keep making and learning about art.

I have exhibited in 4 solo, and many group shows.

In 2018 I graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Painting) from Auckland University of Technology.

I live in Wellington, Aotearoa (New Zealand).

© Linda Gilbert 2019