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Wendy Pettersen

  1. Could you briefly explain the rationale behind the exhibition title “What if?” for audiences?

To invite people to imagine an urban/suburban environment that included wild creatures- and in New Zealand that would be the birds. New Zealand is thought of as the sea bird capital of the world

  1. This exhibition advocates for nature & wildlife. What are some personal experiences/events in your life to spur on a passion for this?

Our trips to Miranda to photograph the godwits, knots, stilts, oystercatchers. Watching the flocks of birds preparing for their long flight north is breath taking. I grew up in an environment in which there were so many creatures- insects, birds and mammals and we are losing them to our detriment

  1. What’s your usual art making process/inspiration/how do you work?

I take photographs of landscapes and birds. Once I have an idea I draw from them; in this instance I would first choose the birds then decide on a suitable habitat, I do many drawings from these photographs so that I understand the proportions of each species and how they move. Then I experiment with different compositional ideas. I use thin washes of oil almost like water colour. In this instance it is to reference pre-colonial painting.

  1. What was a challenging time & a time of highlight in your journey as an artist?

Never having the time to fully realize an idea when I was teaching.

  1. Which 3 artists (dead/alive) that you would like to have dinner with?

I would love to spend an evening with Joseph Banks to learn what New Zealand was like, Ralph Hotere and Fred Williams. I love the richness of Pierre Bonnard’s colours and his oblique viewpoints. Actually I would like to have dinner with Buller and serve him an incapacitating concoction.

  1. From your experience teaching art in high schools, what advice would you give to a younger artist starting out in the creative industry?

Find people who inspire and challenge you and build a community that sustains your development

  1. What are 5 most important items/tools in your creative practice?

Camera, phone, very fine brushes, dark wash pencil, fine smooth canvas

  1. You previously held a solo photographic exhibition at the Depot; what visual mediums do you use in your art practice and what is your relationship with each one?

In the solo exhibition I did multiple black and white film exposure so there was an element of serendipity. However I prefer the control of paint and painting is a lovely way to spend the day.


Wendy’s exhibition “What If?” will be showing at Depot Artspace 20th March – 7th April.

See link for full details:

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