This article was first published on the Parkin Drawing Prize website this month. The award promotes drawing in all its forms - as discovery, a testing of ideas and decision making.
After graduating from Auckland University with a MA (Hons) in Sociology I ventured into social policy which later opened a door to an interesting career in photojournalism. The travel bug bit me and I headed overseas where I was fortunate to absorb some amazing art and culture in Europe while living there.
Back on Antipodean soil and now happily hitched, I established a Fine Art gallery with my husband. Curating up to nine exhibitions annually and wearing many hats occupied my life 24/7 for nearly eight years. Although I had a desire to show my own art, my creativity was channelled into promoting other artists and the gallery.
Life served up some significant changes with the passing of some dearly loved family members including my father, followed shortly after by the arrival of my beautiful son. A few years passed as did our interest in suburban life. My paternal ancestors were Bohemians who settled in Puhoi and my maternal ancestors also immigrated to North Auckland. I felt called to move north and ended up in the Rodney district on a property which includes a magnificent nine acre forest filled with covenanted majestic native trees and “pinch myself” wildlife. The expanse of my new landscape was also the catalyst for a great surge in creativity.
Conservation is something I have been very passionate about for a long time and now I’m surrounded by nature, it has become increasingly important to me. In my work as a multi-media artist with a diverse portfolio encompassing painting, collage/drawing, sculpture and object art, I frequently reference nature in my work – seeking to highlight its beauty, dynamism, energy and its importance to our wellbeing. I have also featured endemic endangered flora and fauna species in my work and completed a series last year based on New Zealand’s rivers, inspired by environmental historian and writer David Young.
My studio is nestled into the forest and I’ve been greening its contents with low to non-toxic art materials; recycled and Fairtrade papers, mid-century and op shop finds for collage materials and substrates.
Sales from my art are helping to re-wild an area around a large pond on our land with our “planting hope” initiative. Three years ago the pond was gorse-laden. Since regeneration began ducks, geese, kingfishers, frogs, dragonflies and bumble bees are all making a welcome return and it’s so gratifying to watch the transformation.
I also support individuals and businesses with sustainable philosophies and am a proud member of Forest & Bird and The Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand. In fact I am going to meet my heroine Dr Goodall when she visits New Zealand in July on her tour here and feel deeply honoured.
With socio-political turmoil and climate change revealing their devastating effects daily, I feel driven to be an “artivist” – an advocate for artists and creatives harnessing their individual and collective power to make a difference. The scale of the problems can feel overwhelming but there are some really gutsy and talented people who inspire me. Being a mother and knowing I have a responsibility for future generations is also hugely motivating.
The art scene has changed dramatically with technological advances not only changing the way some artists create but also the way art is viewed. I think juried shows are increasingly relevant as they provide a physical space for the community to engage with work and for art to be reviewed by experienced judges who bring critical analysis to the table.
I look forward to entering the Parkins Drawing Prize this year with a piece that took several months to complete and epitomises the conceptual and emotive nature of my work as I seek to do justice to my muse.