A New World Has Begun: Painting Encounters with the Land
Ko Ingarangi and ko kōtirana te whakapaparanga mai | Engari, Ko Taranaki te whenua tupu | No Whāingaroa ahau Ko Amanda toku ingoa |Tēnā tatou katoa
It was with a sense of significance that I returned to the Taranaki area to spend time painting in uncultivated areas of Pukekura during 2022 and 2023. Having grown up in Taranaki, the beginning of my painting journey was accompanied by a sense of deep connection to the place.
Before the work began, and again at the end, a group of us met in the garden [Pukekura Park] to acknowledge the whenua [land] and tangata whenua [people of the land] of the Taranaki area, Ngāti Te Whiti hapū and Te Atiawa iwi. These were meaningful times for me and the work. We met by a large puriri tree which had this wonderful light that seemed to illuminate its bark, and there we received words of acknowledgment from Damon Ritai [Ngāti Te Whiti]. Each morning during the coming months I would visit this puriri as a way of marking the beginning of a day of painting.
Through this time in Pukekura I have encountered nuances in the ecology and have been surprisingly affected when witnessing the interaction between painting materials and the environment. During these times I was surrounded by the sounds, scents, and tactile feel of the place, being captivated by swooping birds, gusts of wind, and shifting shadows from the sun. These occasions have left lasting memories, some of which are recorded on the canvas in the form of painting. I have begun to see these places with new wonder, to sense a deep mystery and become more attuned to the vibrancy of the area. For all this I am grateful.
Amanda Watson is a visual artist residing in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her work is characterised by the way that she paints outdoors in collaboration with the land, with a lineage to the process of painting, environmental and performative art.
Her work is held in the Waikato Bequests Collection, Waikato Museum Te Whare O Taonga; The Wallace Art Collection; The University of Waikato Art Collection and private collections in Aotearoa New Zealand and further afield. There are published writings about her work in Scopes Art & Design Journal, The Journal of Visual Art Practice, and reviews on EyeContact, and Fleshbag. Amanda has presented papers and convened panels at the AAANZ [Art Association of Australia and New Zealand] conferences, Waikato Institute of Technology Research Symposiums in 2021, 2022 and 2023, and was the Artist in Residence at the Dunedin School of Art in 2021. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Visual Art Practice and is currently editing a Special Edition which focuses on visual art contributors with connection to the South Pacific [due out 2025].
Alongside her practice-led painting research she teaches fine art part-time at the Waikato Institute of Technology, contributes to academic research in practice-led art, and has a working studio in her local community. She has curated exhibitions, and held a range of project management, strategic development and community roles in the arts. She studied at Elam School of Fine Art, Auckland University; Massey University; Waikato Institute of Technology; Slade School of Fine Art Summer School, University College London [BFA; MA Painting; PGDMuseumSt]. Currently, she is a Research Associate with the Waikato Institute of Technology Te Pūkenga, and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Visual Art Practice.
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