AMBER GABRIELLE STEPHENS
NZ PARALYMPIANS | SPIRIT OF GOLD
The Spirit Of Gold Series is 12 Portraits of NZ’s preeminent Para-athletes and was painted over 8 months then presented by The Honourable John Key at NZ Royal Yacht Squadron in 2015. Over the following 12 months the collection visited over 80 NZ locations and were seen by over a hundred thousand New Zealanders, raising the profile of the athletes in preparation for The 2016 Paralympic Games.
This series began when Amber met Sophie Pascoe to paint her for one of two collections she was planning: NZ Leaders and NZ Women Of Influence. Amber was so taken with Sophie, her unapologetic drive for success that she had to look further into Paralympic Sport. Amber always had the intention to paint a series that supported an organization she was passionate about… and within minutes of the meeting with this massively talented swimmer, she realized that Paralympics NZ was the one. Amber contacted Paralympics NZ and Amber was promptly asked to paint an entire series, rather than several athletes to be included in her NZ Leader Collection.
Quote From Amber’s speech at Opening.
“The original intention was to inspire young Kiwis and to celebrate our unsung heroes.
And indeed I myself became deeply inspired by the attitude of each athlete that I met for the series. There is nothing apologetic about the athlete’s you will see painted. Over the many hours of painting, the words “para”, “challenged”, “disabled” never came to mind. All I saw was the character and determination of focused, passionate athletes.
What I discovered was that in many cases the adversity created the pathway to success. What I loved most was that each of them had a beautiful humility and grace. Such qualities can be lacking when one has not had to come from being on the back foot…..and in some cases, no foot at all.”