Professional Studio Practice 1960–2007

2005—2009 Objects—Concerns: Random, Space, Mind.

—concerns; co opting the random and the art object as trojan horse; semiotics; materials: hair, skin, mind.

Mind Field: Framework to integrate things seen across different fields, 2007
Span, 2008

1980—2000 Installation Sculpture, Books, Objects

—concerns; co opting the random and the art object as trojan horse; semiotics; materials: hair, skin, mind.

Self Portrait , 1981
Mantle : Restoration Piece, 1982
Pharmacopoeia series, 1983
Lamella Lamina, 1983
Stain, 1984
Self Portrait , 1981
Mantle : Restoration Piece, 1982
Pharmacopoeia series, 1983
Lamella Lamina, 1983

1973–1978 Book, Drawings, Prints, Collages, Object

—concerns: I, HERE, NOW, rejected aesthetics by saying”art gets in the way”. Silk screen Book of Forty Images—challenge to high art? Mirror of absurdity? ; Playground prints and drawings; 50s Models Series, collages; Iron Maiden. Dada / Feminist position.

Book of Forty Images , 1973
50's Model Series, 1977

1968–1973 Printmaking

—concerns: I HERE NOW, accessing the repressed feminine; proposing the ecology of the erotic, drawing, material, grammar, working with the given (maculae in collagraphs), appropriation. Repudiated nationalism in favour of Dada /Feminist position.

Gilgamesh Weeps, 1970
Talme, 1970
Spectrum Series, 1970
Honour, Duty, Sacrifice, 1970

1960–1971 Painting

—concerns; I HERE NOW, ontology, existentialism; working with material, grammar, appropriation; 1968 dada / feminist position, repudiated nationalism in NZ art and rejected many of dominant cultures “used up" artistic and intellectual codes such as appropriate materials, signature style, expressionism and high art; proposed concept of multiple identities.1970 spray paintings Gilgamesh and Biogenesis, and double sided painting, Honour, Duty, Sacrifice, which appropriated Ingre’s painting, Women in a bath house.

Gilgamesh Weeps, 1970
Talme, 1970
Spectrum Series, 1970
Honour, Duty, Sacrifice, 1970

I, Here, Now: NAMING: Work Practice 1956—1960

The term “multiple identities”, which I created around 1960, to describe my identity as constituting several characteristics, is not to be confused with the clinical description used in mental health therapy to describe split personality as, “dissociative identity disorder”, (multiple personality disorder).

“Multiple identities”, was the name I gave to describe the effect on my identity of situational changes in the first five years of marriage, a congenital lung condition, childbirth, five surgeries, and a three year recovery. After previous years identifying with my study and practice as an artist, I found myself accommodating a multitude of different situations, which broadened my reality and identity to resemble a grid and flow of blockages and possibilities.

In 1956 just months after I married I took a WEA class in Timaru to study Philosophy. It was a return drive of 60 miles in the evening once a week and I loved it. For years I had been aware of the lack so over the next nine years read the standard texts and a diverse package of thinkers including Simone de Beauvoir. This was balanced with a broad diet of art history and contemporary art so that I was able to construct a picture of western metaphysics and art from which females were largely written out.

All the while the experiential changes of childbirth and five surgeries, referred to above, were on going and I was struggling with having been made dependent by these changes. I had been prepared not to have a studio life for a year or two after marriage but grappling with my changed mentalities, insights and how to name them was confusing and difficult. At issue was my identity. I had unwittingly absorbed the traditional code for artists, which was the notion that an artist’s identity and art style were synonymous and immutable. For me now, nothing could be immutable. It was clear that expansion of identity would occur throughout life, that my art practice would reflect those changes and that style could become a significant constructive and mutable, formal tool rather than denoting personal expression. My experiences had totally annihilated the neat and tidy traditional code suited to art gallery dealers. It also became clear a little later that my art practice was primarily about something other than making money.

I toyed with the notion of multiple identities.

At this time in 1959, I heard the only voice saying something similar concerning identity and style. In Christchurch, Douglas MacDiarmid expatriate painter, held his exhibition at Andre Brooks Gallery 91. In discussion he described his disenchantment with the dealer gallery system in Europe, gallery directors not allowing artists any change in subject or style due to sales being dependent on the artists identity. His suggestion that this hampered the progress of his work made a strong impression on me, albeit I came at it from the position of personal identity difference as well as questioning the business code, which said identity was synonymous with style and was immutable.

The salient point to make regarding MacDiarmid’s suggestion is that he was shaped by less rigid notions of exhibiting at a time when there were very few professional dealer art galleries in New Zealand, by having access to the Christchurch Group, as was I, along with Colin McCahon who developed a variety of subjects and styles, and Toss Woollaston who developed one style. There was room for a degree of difference.

However by 1960 dealer art galleries were beginning to establish themselves around New Zealand and the code was being pushed particularly vehemently in the art school in Christchurch. Students were expected at a very young age to have developed their style, a style to last a lifetime by the age of 22. There was even talk of the artist as transcendent genius whereas at the age of 28, my days were occupied with matters of life, death and survival.

What was I to do---- deny, suppress or embody this difference in my identity and future art practice? By contrast I had completely annihilated the possibility of developing a neat and tidy identity and style in favour of developing multiple identities.

I returned to the studio part time, eager to immerse myself in the pleasure of the creative process, to experience the intense euphoric fusion of mind and body critical to my life, to work on these questions. This resulted in my 1960 manifesto “I, HERE, NOW’’, a summation of my present existential moment and questions about how I might develop a practice to embody the multiple aspects of my identity and above all, translate my experiences into an effective form language.

Read More

Self Portrait, 1957
Painting, 1957
Winter Birds, 1957

Early Artworks 1945-1959

Self Portrait, 1953
Self Portrait, 1957
Painting, 1957
Winter Birds, 1957
Self Portrait (Palm Print), 1950
Pumpkin Cottage, Silverstream, 1944