Artist Fern Petrie’s work is a cultural collision of her combined Maori heritage and her European ancestry.
UPROOTING to another country can pull you in unexpected directions.
When accomplished Tuart Hill artist Fern Petrie left her native Auckland in New Zealand for Perth five years ago with just one month’s notice (it was for her husband’s work as a geophysicist), she had to adjust to a new life in a new landscape.
However, a job at an art supplies store set Petrie – a proficient carver and print-maker with an extensive list of solo and group exhibitions to her credit – on a new creative journey.
“I’d never done any painting, but at Jacksons, I worked opposite the oil painting stand, and kept looking at those oil paints every day and then finally, I tried it, and felt a real connection with colour, which I haven’t really experienced a lot of,” she said.
“In Maori design, all the colours are from the land, so you’ve got your ochres, browns, blacks and so on, but the really bright colours – the renaissance kind of colours – are something I’ve only started working on in the past couple of years.
“And in New Zealand, it’s always rainy or windy and changeable, but in Perth, it’s just bright and sunny all the time and I think that brightness has come through in the paintings.”
Petrie’s latest exhibition, Cabinet of Curiosities, is a collection of 40 oil paintings, gouache and sculpture works inspired by photographs from the Victorian era, and designed to entice viewers into a world of mystery and spur their inner curiosities.
At the heart of her work is a cultural collision of her combined Maori heritage – strengthened while studying at Te Toi Hou, Auckland University’s Maori arts department – and her European ancestry.
“I learnt how symbolism plays an important part in Maori art… it’s important to know about your family history and cultural heritage,” she said.
- Cabinet of Curiosities is showing at Murano & Gullotti, Subiaco, until December 10.
|Fern & Nik in front of 'The Sisterhood'|
|Outside the gallery looking in at the doll 'The Secret Society'|
The opening night of my new exhibition ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ was the glorious end to a year long journey. Over forty works were displayed in the Murano & Gullotti gallery in Subiaco, Perth amongst the glittering opulence of Murano chandeliers. My friend Chris wowed gallery goers with his mesmerising contact juggling with crystal balls and the fortune teller read her cards all evening to the gentle strains of the harpist. As always I was thrilled to see my friends and loved talking to people about the symbolism which informed the creation of this collection. It was a joy to meet those who will soon take pieces home and reconnect with those who have collected in the past.
|'Fortune Favors The Brave'|
|'The Curtain Rises'|