I do not normally work like this. My usual approach to artmaking is conceptual and thought-through, engaging with ideas “out there”, rather than being process-driven. However, in lead-up to this exhibition I had no plan. At that moment in time I just knew I needed to paint, and to start with objects and aspects of nature that sparked joy and wonder.
Having arrived at the stationery store to find the shelves completely cleaned out of canvases and with no ETA for new stock, I resolved to start with the supports I had in the studio. So I prepped boards and sanded back old paintings that were either surplus to requirements or simply hadn’t worked out. But what I found in the process was that I couldn’t go back to a completely clean white board. There were traces, grooves and vestiges of the former image, in colour and texture, which would come through to be part of the new work.
As I worked away, I pondered on this all this, and I concluded that this process of the sanding back of what was, the deliberate re-purposing and repainting over the top, was as significant as the actual images themselves. And I realised this was a metaphor for my life. And so this series has become a meditation, a portal to hope, an invitation to re-envision through the eyes of faith.
And, while honouring the past, we recognise that our layers of history, contribute to who we are, and inform, but don’t define our futures. And that, to a certain extent, we have the power to rewrite or stories, our futures, and that even our past failures can be a springboard to new possibilities.
I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…
Fiona Lees graduated from Otago University with a Bachelor of Pharmacy in 1993 and from NMIT with a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design in 2010.
In 2012 she undertook the Hamish Fletcher Lawyers NMIT Graduate Residency based at the Refinery Artspace on Nelson. She has exhibited in the touring exhibition of finalists from the 2012 Adam Portraiture Awards with a portrait of Sir Bob Parker, and at the Auckland Artfair in 2013 with her Secundum Artem series.
Lees works in a range of media from painting and video projection to ceramics and photography; using them to comment on contemporary culture, spirituality and truth. She also currently works as a pharmacist.
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