Black Lives Matter 1 (2021) from the AND IT WAS SAID series - Acrylic Ink on photographic paper
What is your background and how does that inform your art? As an artist your life can’t help but inform your art in some manner or form. Regarding myself, it could be my fascination with how light reflects off a surface from my years observing car painters at work in the family’s panel-beating business or how stage lighting illuminates and provides drama to dancers on a stage from my interest in dance and performance or reflecting on social justice and gender issues from my years working as an Administrator for Anglican Women in Ministry. All these things and more, inform my art practice, sometimes in an obvious way, other times more subtly. How do you work? I’m a natural multi-tasker and this year I am consciously applying this to my art practice and am deliberately working on more than one series of works at a time. Whereas in the past I might have devoted a couple of years to a singular series of works I found by the end of each series I was desperate to move on to something else - just to use a different palette or technique. I really like the challenge of painting and working with different techniques and mediums – it helps keep my creativity levels up and my work “fresh”. Therefore, when I come to a natural impasse in one area, e.g., oil painting, I can always change tack and work on another series of work, e.g., water colours or abstract acrylic works. I have become more motivated and productive in my art practice since I’ve stopped denying my multi-tasking attributes.
Karena in her studio spraying 3D recycled wooden blocks used in the ISLAND series
What process, materials, techniques do you use to create your artwork? The process, materials, and techniques I use depends on each series of work that I am creating. For instance, in the And It Was Said series, I am using acrylic inks on photographic gloss paper and allowing the paint to flow across building up layers of transparent washes so that words or drawings can be seen through the various layers. Whereas in the Islands series, spray paint and acrylics layered with a palette knife to build up texture and movement across the 3D surface of reclaimed and recycled wood blocks require different techniques and processes. Then again, the Winifred series is a body of oil paintings painted on handmade paper, quite traditional in process and techniques used. How does your work comment on current social or political issues? I have never walked the streets in protest with a placard in my hands but that doesn’t mean that I’m passive to the world and its issues. It is through my art making that I address these things. Underlying a lot of my work is a fascination with the questioning of ideas relating to the human condition, exploring the human physiological journey and what we reveal or conceal from others. It was through this premise that I responded to the #Me Too movement in a series of work denouncing sexual harassment. I have also responded to the Black Lives Matter movement and highlighting current events through selected lyrics or quotes in And It Was Said, one of my latest series of work.
A close up view of Te Haupa / Saddle Island 2 (2021), ISLAND series, Acrylic on recycled wood blocks