My practice focuses on care activities and textiles that remind us of shared experiences that form identity and become memory.
Piecework, an exploded book, has drawings of ceramic fragments my daughter found and collected, creating a narrative between the objects as she reassembled them. These ceramic fragments have featured in my work a number of times, as objects themselves and as images for drawing.
Keep Care is a pair of handmade tea towels, embroidered with objects I’ve found and saved with my nana and my children.
Both of these works are on textiles I have hand dyed with avocado skins and stones, a process that I refined during 2020, it takes two to three days, to produce a reliable die bath and treat the textiles. Every batch while consistently brewed produces colour variation and is unique, separate batches of avocado stones produces a stunning pink – peach colour, whereas the avocado skins give a darker, more tannin hue.
Held at Creative Northland offices and online.
Dates: 10 weeks Tuesdays 3-5pm, 20th September – 22nd November (online dates are yet to be confirmed).
About the Creative Practice workshops
Designed to support emerging artists and recent arts graduates with developing their independent creative practices, culminating in a group exhibition in Whangarei. The goal of the workshops is to equip artists to engage confidently and professionally with their communities, via supportive connections between practitioners, a deep dive into their studio practice to understand their processes and provide a supportive space to test ideas and present their work.
We cover essentials skills for professional practice including;
● Critical feedback on studio practice
● Approaches to research
● Applying for grants and funding
● How to write artist statements
● Working collaboratively
● Project management
● Sustainable practice in the arts industry
The workshops are tailored to meet the needs of the participants and are adapted for online platforms. After the conclusion of the 10 weeks, I continue to offer support and mentoring as we work towards the final group exhibition in 2023. The artists who participated in the 2021 workshops were able to engage with each other and support each other’s respective practices, as they actively worked towards new ideas, making goals for new bodies of work and testing new ideas. So great to see them work together and support each other so generously. A key part of the workshops is looking at other artists, learning from each other as peers, as well as looking at each artist’s practice in the broader arts historical context. Each artist is challenged and encouraged to extend their ideas and studio work.
These are some thoughts by artists on my process and how I’ve helped them with their practice:
Jolene Pascoe says;
“Having been part of the mentoring workshops with Angela I have found myself working consistently and frequently towards my goal of being an artist.
I have found this workshop has hugely complimented my recent completion of the Bachelor of Applied Arts. Learning more about the practical steps you need to take in the creative arts sector has been exactly what I have needed to keep my own art practice alive and to understand a lot more about the creative industry aspect of being a working artist.
This is one of the best things I’ve done! Angela’s style and approach to the work we need to do for these workshops is educational, helpful and knowledgeable and she understands each of our individual needs well through her thoughtful observation of us as artists and what we are trying to achieve. Angela is a great mentor and I would highly recommend these continue for future artists”
Catherine Davies Colley (MFA) says;
The 10-week Art Group mentored by Angela Rowe, was central to the re engagement with my practice. Angela’s thought-provoking comments, contextual guidance and extensive knowledge base of art ideologies have activated me and my making. This mentored group allowed me to shift and have confidence again in my thoughts and work removing the vacuum I was inhabiting. Angela guided the group with structured topics and discussion. The outcomes are evident in the contextual practices of individuals of the group.
Ros Craw says;
Grateful is probably a better word but kind of like thankfulness…..
What has this group and you given me/ meant to me…..
– a supportive encouraging safe group to work with- great discussions, new artists to look at, ideas to think about, books to read- other ways of looking at my work, seeing how it’s seen through different eyes-has enabled me to believe in myself more and keep working on my ideas-acceptance (really important for lots of different reasons)-challenges, to try different ways of working, think about different perspectives ….are thrown but in a very kind way-the chance to network with even more like-minded people in the area- friends now for sure
All interested artists are asked to prepare some images of their work, so I can see what your studio practice is like, what your experience in arts (any time studying, exhibition experience etc). It’s really important to know what artists I work with are wanting to achieve from our workshops.
The main requirement of artists I work with is a commitment to their practice, making time for the workshops as well as their own making, as much as possible.
Learn more about the group I mentored, Collective Practice, and our experience shared here:
You can also find us on instagram here:
If you are interested in participating in this next series of workshops, please contact me directly at:
These workshops have been made possible by the generous support of Whangārei District Council and Creative Northland.
This stitch work is part of a project begun during lockdown 2020. During isolation from people I loved, I was using selfies to see myself, and to be seen with my significant connections. The selfies may mark a pause, such as a birthday, or they may represent a period of loss or grief. Some capture a time I felt vulnerable, distressed or particularly distant, I see the images as a connecting device in my relationships with others, but also vital in understanding myself.
Countering ideas commonly associated with selfies as being superficial and momentary, the process of drawing and embroidering slows the process and creates a permanent object from a fleeting digital image. I liken the embroideries to drawings, or pages of a journal which form a series of self portraits.
More on Changing Threads 2022 exhibition here, Changing Threads Contemporary Textile Fibre Art Award.
The work used more than 8700 metres of black embroidery thread, and I stitched it over the course of two months. The textile is dyed using avocado stones and skins, and is also a long process involving first creating the dye bath in pots, then steeping the cloth in pots over a 24 – 48 hour period, rinsed and air dried.
More on the beginnings of this project can be found here, where I wrote about the first Lockdown portraits.
Coming to Reyburn House Art Gallery in June 2022
Opening 5-7pm Tuesday 7th June
10 – 31 Reyburn House Lane, Whangārei Town Basin
Cut with the Kitchen Knife is a group exhibition featuring new works by members of the art group Collective Practise. It is curated by Angela Rowe. The exhibition showcases work across a range of media including paper, ceramics, textile, printmaking, sculpture, installation and performance.
In 1919 the German artist Hannah Höch (1889–1978) hung a collage in a group exhibition. The collage, a complex and tumultuous work, was titled Cut with the Kitchen Knife, Dada through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany. Using photomontage Höch cut and reassembled images to comment on the inequalities faced by women in the arts at institutional and interpersonal levels at the time.
The members of Collective Practise meet regularly to share studio research, reading, and talk through ideas central to their mahi toi. Working together in this way Collective Practise has created Cut with the Kitchen Knife, to share work that discusses their experience of contemporary social issues such as modern motherhood, relationships to place, each other, and materials in their art practice.
As part of the exhibition, Collective Practise offers a series of free workshops, an artists panel discussion and an opening night, covid permitting.
Collective Practise is;
Catherine Davies-Colley, Ros May, Alex Moyse, Jolene Pascoe, Angela Rowe, and Linette van Greunen.
This exhibition and related events has been made possible by the generous support of Whangārei District Council and the Creative Communities Scheme.
Presenting new work and a bolder install of my MFA grad show in my home town of Whangarei was an exciting opportunity. I developed two new video works and created larger scale textile pieces in response to the new space.
Convection, 2020. Video, 58 seconds.
Rainbow skinks, fan shells and wheel shells.
Keep care, 2020. Video, 123 mins.I used to find dead insects in your pockets functions as an archive in flux, by attempting to make the absent visible or the lost tangible. Sue Breakell describes the fluid nature of working with an archive as having no “fixed meaning … we may know the action that created the trace, but its present and future meanings can never be fixed.”1 By choosing what to emphasise and what remains concealed, I seek to add further layers of meaning by re- contextualising these objects. I may manipulate them and so disrupt familiar associations, alternatively I may reproduce and repeat, the object then becomes the formal representation of a relationship; a social object.
Selfies stitched in Lockdown 2020, in the 29th Wallace Awards.
I made my final submission for my MFA in Auckland at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design in February 2020, and March was a month to work towards an exhibition that came from my research. This exhibition was to open in April, and would include installation, performance and storytelling, perhaps even a collaborative social project. This was to be a solo show in my hometown of Whangarei but of course, 2020 would unfold in ways no one could plan for. I stepped into a project that challenged me in ways I did not anticipate.
Intimacy and distance are constantly negotiated throughout the process of stitching the selfies. Shifting from the photographic image to the pencil on cloth and then embedding the image and line with thread. This process pushes me away from myself and retains a sense of safety in what I chose to share publicly. I creates a safe space to re-present images of myself.
Selfies stitched in Lockdown 2020, detail, at the Pah Homestead, Auckland.
As my masters’ research paused, I was speculating on new questions that emerged; how can formal objects exist in a social or relational practice? And can one engage in dialogue with objects and people, and socially with the object in the absence of the person? This project enabled me to view my work and research through another lens.
Selfies stitched in Lockdown 2020, detail, at the Pah Homestead, Auckland.
With constraints on physical movement, who I spent my days with and where we were based became the locus. With lockdown, my closest and most intimate relationships became paramount. My research focus, with a basis in social interactions and exchange had to shift to new modes of connecting and ultimately a new subject matter.
Selfies stitched in Lockdown 2020. Found textile dyed with avocado skins and seeds, ballpoint pen, pencil, embroidery thread. 29th Wallace Awards, Pah Homestead, Auckland.
Six selfies from this project, Selfies stitched in Lockdown 2020, is a finalist in the 29th Wallace Art Awards, and is part of the travelling exhibition during 2020 and 2021. It is at the following venues:
Wallace Arts Centre, Pah Homestead
15 September – 15th November.
(The Salon des Refusés finishes on Oct 25th)
Official opening Sunday 6th of December, ending Sunday 28 February 2021.
March – May 2021.
Selfies stitched in Lockdown 2020, detail, at the Pah Homestead, Auckland.
Sewing, Keep Care, 2019
“Collaborate: to work with someone else for a special purpose”.1
I used to find dead insects in your pockets, assembles a fluid archive of objects that are connecting devices in my relationships. These objects; ferns, curtains, containers and the things within them, such as hair, shells, insects, are gathered, cared for or re-created by me, forming a kind of catalogue of traces which connect me to my past. They are also a medium for moving forward. Relationships are enacted, memories are conjured up in the process of handling, organising and being with them, shifting through time together. Boundaries of lived experience and fragments of memory become blurred, it is as though I am collaborating with my Nana while I work with my children, that we stand here together at the same moment in time.
My interest lies in the power such images as objects have in forming identities, the stories one may foreground in response to a visual, text, or oral archive. These responses also seem to connect and reinforce social bonds, where I work back and forward with my Nana and my children, within my network of friends. These objects become part of our vernacular exchange.
Working, install at home, I used to find dead insects in your pockets, 2019
Maureen Lander’s Flat-Pack Whakapapa, a touring exhibition from 2017 – 2019 explores connections between whakapapa or genealogy and raranga, flax weaving.2 Coming from mātauranga Māori, a Māori world view, Lander plays with a contemporary understanding of relationships. Where family, kinship and networks are mobile, shifting and expanding across time. The work consists of installations of woven objects that can be added to, packed down, and reinstalled in each gallery space. The result of an ever expanding collaboration, the woven objects have been created by various groups, via workshops and under Lander’s guidance. The act of collaboration extends the life of the work, the potential is for the project to be ongoing, connecting and reconnecting with each new iteration of Flat-Pack Whakapapa.
Lander designed the project, providing instruction in the form of workshops, then outsourcing the making of the work to other weavers. Then Lander, in turn drew all the work of many hands together in an installation. During an interview with Priscilla Pitts at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Lander places value on relationships, stating that is what interests her. This may be relationships with her materials, her whanau and the various communities she engages to work with her.3 This seems to add a durational quality to the work, not only in the process of making and installing each new iteration of the work, but that these relationships do not necessarily end when the project ends. In Flat-Pack Whakapapa there is the sense that the dialogue continues, some of the connections formed may be strengthened, while others may well slip away.
I used to find dead insects in your pockets, 2019, detail.
The objects in I used to find dead insects in your pockets are quite ordinary. They speak to the everyday routines, everyday needs and activities of a household for example, the blankets in Keep Care. Despite their vernacular language, they seem extraordinary to me as they relate to the work of care and attention to the needs of family, and the memories that I call up with these objects. Opening up long closed cupboards and deep drawers led to the discovery of eleven blankets that my nana had made in the 60s and 70s for the beds in her home and in a family bach. She had given me one, years ago, and there was one on my bed whenever I stayed with Nana and Poppa, so I knew of these blankets. I didn’t realise she had made so many, and I can feel the work in them, the weight of them. They are the embodiment of care of my family history, they have been on the beds of other members of my family, they will have felt the weight and warmth of these objects. On close inspection, most of the blankets are marked and stained, some with holes, one has been seriously damaged by sunlight. This reveals something of the lives they’ve lead.
The domestic interior is often a location where these relationships play out. Relationships that happen within this space and the stories that can be told through these everyday objects inform the dialogue I wish to foreground in I used to find dead insects in your pockets.
I also see tangible, but invisible work; the maintenance, that Mierle Laderman-Ukeles focuses on in her performance work:
clean your desk, wash the dishes, clean the floor, wash your clothes, wash your toes, change the baby’s diaper, finish the report, correct the typos, mend the fence, keep the customer happy, throw out the stinking garbage, watch out don’t put things in your nose, what shall I wear, I have no sox, pay your bills, don’t litter, save string, wash your hair, change the sheets, go to the store, I’m out of perfume, say it again—he doesn’t understand, seal it again—it leaks, go to work, this art is dusty, clear the table, call him again, flush the toilet, stay young.4
The relationships I have with the objects are specific to members of my family and circles of kinship. The original fern in this installation was cared for by my mother and now lives with me, my children and our friends. The fern is a stand in for our connections to one another, we share the care of and live with them, collaborating with tips and knowledge and regular care of the plant;
they are not as sensitive as you think, just keep them moist, give them a sunny aspect, but out of direct sunlight.
I used to find dead insects in your pockets, 2019, studio detail.
Working with my Nanas shells, and those collected with my children, I collaborate with Nana and my children on a shared project, the outcome of which is still a mystery, but a part of our everyday lives.
Is this way of working, a model of collaboration and exchange, that can exist in the physical absence of another person? Creative practice often involves working with, or from existing research and ideas. The body is present even if in disguise: Tracing the Trace in the Artwork of Nancy Spero and Ana Mendieta, charts a body of work I consider an unconventional, collaborative social project.5 The conversation between the artists appears to exist across time, and despite Mendieta’s death, I interpret it as an exchange. It is also unusual in that the homage is made by an older artist in response to the work of a younger artist. This is a reversal of the usual ways that artists relate to one another, based on the patriarchal hierarchy of mentor/student dynamic.
Mendieta’s performance, Body Tracks (Rasrtos Corporales) 1982, was described as an intimate event, with a small audience that consisted of the New York art community, including Spero, who were given minimal information about what would happen.6 The audience was positioned facing three large, blank pieces of paper in a softly lit space. Accompanied by the sound of beating drums Mendieta dressed in plain clothes, entered the room, dipped her arms into a bowl of animal blood and tempera, her hands thoroughly coated in the pigment, she stepped up to a sheet of paper, pressing her hands and arms against it. Mendieta dragged her hands and arms down, leaving behind blood red streaks which still held the hand-print trace, this process was repeated two more times, leaving a series of drawings on the wall for the audience to view, after which Mendieta walked out of the room, leaving the audience with the drawings.7 Spero made a series of works in response to this performance, described as “…re-tracing, re-presenting and re-telling.”8 These works incorporated the image of the handprint and text, one work, The Ballad of Marie Sanders, The Jew’s Whore, included a spontaneous action that became an homage to Mendieta’s Body Tracks (Rasrtos Corporales) performance.9
Spero was present at Mendieta’s performance of Body Tracks (Rasrtos Corporales), and her work in response continues the dialogue, even after Mendieta’s death. In a similar process, painter Kirsten Carlin regards working with a series of Francis Hodgkins paintings to be a kind of social practice, connecting Carlin with Hodgkins across time.10 This relationship forms as Carlin studies Hodgkin’s visual language, process and content. Then by finally producing a collection of paintings in response, bringing Hodgkins work into a conversation with the contemporary field of painting. It is a similar kind of exchange or conversation when I work with and re-create objects in I used to find dead insects in your pockets. Revisiting memories and places, I learn more about the people I’m working with. This may result in new understandings, re-establishing those bonds when I re-perform actions with people in my life now, like the dead dragonfly my daughter brought me.
I used to find dead insects in your pockets, 2019, Luna’s dragonfly, detail.
1. Collaborate, Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary.
2. Pitts, ‘Maureen Lander’.
4. Ukeles, Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969!
5. Walker, The Body Is Present Even If in Disguise.
10. Carlin, Kirsten. Navigating Art Contexts.
I used to find dead insects in your pockets, 2019, detail.
Golden Oyster, Anomia trigonopsis 51-83 mm.
The golden oyster is an irregular, oval shell with different valves. The convex upper valve is wrinkled, shiny and deep gold to slivery white. The thin, translucent lower valve grows to fit the contours of the underlying rock or shell. The upper valve develops the same sculpture because during growth the two valve margins fit together. Some lower valves are bright green. The hardened byssal plug emerges through a large hole near the hinge to secure the golden oyster onto the rock or shell.1
I used to find dead insects in your pockets, 2020, installation detail.Nana and I would walk the beach; not far from her house, looking for these shells, each time I found one of the ‘right’ shells, I would feel a sense of satisfaction. She was clear about what she wanted, while she loved many shells, these were The Best. Golden, thin and fragile, what we were collecting them for, I will never know. Going back now, to these beaches with my children, I don’t find these shells. The coast has changed with the expanding city and housing developments. Our collecting may have contributed to this loss, or conversely it may also performed a preservative role. Those places and moments now exist in her jars, which I keep care of (Fig. 1). 1 Morley, Margaret S. Photographic Guide to Seashells of New Zealand, (page 39).
Lockdown portraits; I’m sad because I miss you, and I don’t know when I’ll see you again.
In response to the practical realities of Lockdown level 4 in Aotearoa, I considered my closest relationships, those that, of necessity that I need to care for, and those that I most wish to care for. The people I see everyday, my children and those in my somewhat extensive ‘bubble’, and those I love, who would now become long distance relationships for an unknown period of time.
After skirting close to self portraits during my MFA I began a series of self portraits, drawing on images I have shared with my intimate connections, Lockdown portraits; I’m sad because I miss you, and I don’t know when I’ll see you again, a series of selfies stitched in to cloth.
This process brings images, as traces of relationships into the ‘real world’, making this long distance relationship feel more tangible.
Let them eat cake
During Lockdown Level 4, I engaged in a kind of government sanctioned photographic project. Lockdown walks; uncontrolled environments, involved gathering and sharing images taken on long walks, this has become a creative ritual, as I posted the images to instagram.
Under lockdown in Aotearoa, walking in one’s local neighbourhood is permitted for health and wellbeing. Four days each week I walk alone, starting from my suburban home, these walks are up to 2 and half hours and range between 10-12km, within this time and distance I can traverse both rural and urban landscapes.
I notice and document the way soft elements of the landscape have changed, there is less litter, fallen fruit is left on the ground. Fewer cars, fewer people. There is a sense of loss, a specific kind of aloneness on these walks, I take this time while my children are staying with their father. These walks are punctuated by the occasional police car, passers by, exchanging a glance or sharing greetings from a safe social distance. People queue for the local dairy, the roads are so empty.
Each walk is different, forming a new narrative, as I observe details and sometimes collect plants. As new streets and neighbourhoods become familiar, a feeling of connection expands outwards; this is another long distance relationship, like that with my partner, family and friends under lockdown.
It is on these walks, that I feel my connection to my place, here in Aotearoa. Otherwise, my sense of place and connection is lost in my day to day responsibilities and activities. These long walks refocus my attention to the place I am and when I am, the expansiveness of the outdoors contrasts starkly with the immediacy of domestic life with children and working from home.
This project has enabled me to become more embedded in the city I live in. Janet Cardiff uses storytelling on her audio walks, where she invites a listener-walker to become intimate with the places she takes them. Likewise, with images and text, I have invited my Instagram community to walk with me in Whangarei.
Hearing from friends and family living in other forms of lockdown outside Aotearoa, walking outdoors is a cherished and legitimate activity, when almost all other movements are not allowed.