LIVES AND WORKS
LIVES AND WORKS
Born in Australia, I have lived in New Zealand since 1962. I studied at the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, and since 1982 I have exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout New Zealand. Since 2016 my paintings have also been shown in New York, London, Bruges, Milan and Venice. I have been a finalist in several major art awards, with works sold to private and public collections.
My main body of work explores and questions historic perceptions and expectations of women’s lives. However, I have recently also begun to explore environmental issues - in particular, the effects of human intervention in the natural landscape, which I relate to the effects of domestic and social violence, as well as medical procedures and interventions, on women's minds and bodies.
I have long been concerned about the physical and mental violence endured by women, in all walks of life and in many cultures. It can be domestic or social violence, or “medical misadventure”. Then there is self-inflicted violence. This latter also includes cosmetic surgery, undergone in response to constant peer and social media pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations of female beauty. Violence may leave visible scars – the result of physical abuse, or botched surgery. Mental scarring is not so visible.
In my “Old Bag” series 2015-16, I covered torn and stitched-up wool packs (fadges) with brightly-coloured paint and glitter to discuss how women hide or disguise their scars, pretending the violence is not happening.
In 2018-19, in my series, “Woman”, I physically cut into the painted canvases to represent the cuts and slashes that disfigure the cosmetically-disguised female body. Violence of any description is not OK. These issues need to be brought into the open. Artists have a responsibility and a unique means to do this. As a woman artist who has not only observed, but also experienced physical and mental violence, I own that responsibility.
Most recently, I turned to an earlier series, "Wrinkled Bellies" (1984-5), for inspiration. That series comprised wall hangings knitted on circular needles. The hangings were created in wool because the fibre reminds me of the softness and elasticity of skin, and because in our country working in wool has been traditionally the work of women, and above all, of mothers. As a child, I was disturbed by the lines on my mother’s stomach. Later, as a mother myself, I found similar wrinkles and marks on my own belly and, studying them, began to see them as no longer ugly, but symbolic of motherhood. I see beauty in these lines. Just as there is softness in the breast, so too there is softness in the lines of childbirth. I have now developed these ideas in a series of drawings and paintings titled "Life-lines", reflecting the marks which connect women globally as evidence of the universal phenomenon of childbirth - an experience which brings not only pain, but also joy and hope for the future.
During the period of isolation enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic - a time of separation from those we love because of an invisible virus - I also began to think of these marks as the lines of communication that connect all of us: the lines of essential supplies delivered by transport and supermarket workers, the health-care and financial life-lines that are supporting our communities.
My new environmental series looks at the selfish and destructive human agendas that ignore not only the rights of other living beings such as trees, but also the benefits these sentient beings and organisms bestow on the environment which we all share.
My work is predominantly a reflection of the struggle and passage through chaos. My desire is that one day we will all emerge to a new order of equality, consideration and fairness.
WHO I AM
A contemporary painter and mixed media artist.
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