Hi Tiffany – last time we met you were hard at work crafting beautiful keepsake boxes for your silent auction as the 2012 Artists Alliance resident artist. It’s been four years since then, what direction has your practice taken?
A lot has happened on a personal note. We moved to Melbourne in 2013 and had a few kids so my practice has definitely evolved. Not having the same time available to me has meant that my sculptural works have taken a sabbatical and I find I do more drawing and photography, media that can be easily picked up and packed away so it can slot into my daily life.
How has the move to Australia impacted your practice if at all?
I find it exciting and inspiring to be immersed in another culture, to experience different cultural and indigenous works and trains of thought. Though we are similar to our Trans-Tasman cousins, our differences have been a surprising and delightful discovery. Melbourne has a lot going on and I use this time as research for my own practice, experiencing as much as I can: events, shows, exhibitions, locations, fairs, markets, and embrace my inner tourist. I am navigating the art scene, discovering what organisations, funding, residencies, institutions, etc. are available so when I am ready to exhibit I have the networks in place.
This experience has brought a fresh appreciation for my own home country and an understanding of both the uniqueness that is growing up a New Zealander and the otherness of being a foreigner in an unfamiliar land.
So many artists have to balance the parent/artist roles, it’s a tough gig! Can you tell us your experience of this juggle?
It has certainly been a learning curve! I have discovered a lot about myself and how I approach my art making, which is indulgent to say the least. I can easily slip into the studio for 12 hours, only surfacing for lunch but that approach is no longer feasible or practical. So whereas my ideas have not changed, how I approach the art making process has. I’d like to say I have set hours of studio time but with the boys being so young my making has to be more fluid than that.
It has been a reflective time for my practice, thinking about the economics of making and working smarter not harder.
How do you keep the momentum going with less time available to spend on your art making?
Honestly, sleep plays a big part in that. If I haven’t had much, the creative juices are dry and takes a toll on my motivation. Personally, setting realistic goals for myself is helpful at this phase of my life. I can crush my own creativity by putting too much pressure on myself. I know what I am capable of producing right now, and I love to create, so I allow myself the freedom to experiment with no set outcomes. When I have a few moments to myself I draw, sew, cross stitch, and with the boys we work on craft and artsy projects: playdough, collage, forts, painting. It’s liberating to embrace the foundation of what it means to be an artist, which is to be a maker. The process of making inspires ideas. Our household are also very big fans of Mr Maker!
How has your work changed as a result of your new role as a parent?
Obviously time is the biggest obstacle these days. The focus of my work remains the same but I am exploring other ways to achieve my desired results in the time frames I have available. In the technological era we live in, I think it is important to investigate how a digital platform can work in my practice also.
I am researching how I can employ digital strategies to create and record, like using GPS or longitude/latitude coordinates, and have a dedicated server set up with 14TB external harddrives for storage.
I am also exploring the exciting potential of communicating with mobile devices, which opens up a world of interactivity and accessibility with the viewer.
Plans for the future?
There is a residency open to artists in my local community which I am keen to be involved in when the boys are older. I have connected with a group of artists in the UK and would like to collaborate on a cultural exchange project with them in the future. I also want to exhibit with Australian artists, there are some wonderful gallery spaces (or even creating a pop-up space) here and I’m really keen to work with the locals.
Images courtesy Tiffany Rewa Newrick