Gary Waldrom was born 1953 in Waipawa Hawke’s Bay. He has had no formal art training, which has assisted the development of his unique style. He has been a finalist in various significant art competitions since the 1970’s, including the Bensen & Hedges Art Award in 1978, and has received numerous awards, including the Eastern & Central Trust Bank Art prize in 1981 and the Montana Lindauer Art Merit Award in 1986. He has had frequent regular solo exhibitions throughout the country, and also featured in a Television documentary and radio shows. One of the strengths of Waldrom’s paintings is the unanswerable questions they pose: about who these characters are, about how much of what is painted comes from the artist’s experience/life - this leads to an assumption that there is some quiet personal agenda, or secret narrative. But it is the very open applications of the themes, and the unique and quirky visual appeal of Waldrom’s work that keeps one fascinated Waldrom’s figures are smiling (or at least smirking). They seem to know something that we don’t, as they look boldly out of the painting with direct and unflinching (maybe slightly teasing) stare. And they block the view of a background that seems to increasingly provide a wide-open space that contrasts dramatically with the detail of the figures, and enhances the sense of their oddness and mysterious isolation.