Graham Fletcher – the Tylee Cottage Artist-in-Residence, February – June 2021
Graham Fletcher has been a practicing artist since 1997 and his work to date as a New Zealand-born Samoan has explored complex cultural issues within a post‐colonial context. These ideas formed the basis for further research and in February 2010 he completed his Doctorate of Fine Arts at The University of Auckland. The numerous shows he has participated in include: Biennale d’art contemporain de Nouméa, Tjibaou, Cultural Centre, New Caledonia (2000); IKI and Thanks for All the IKA, Contemporary Art Centre, Lithuania (2003); 10th Festival of Pacific Arts, American Samoa (2008); ATA: An Exhibition of Contemporary Samoan Art, Harris Gallery – University of La Verne, California (2012); Home AKL, Auckland Art Gallery (2012); The Seventh Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery ‐ Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2012); Future Primitive, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, Australia (2013); and Time of Others, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2015), travelling to The National Museum of Art, Osaka (2015), Singapore Art Museum (2015 ‐ 2016) and the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2016). More recently, a retrospective of Fletcher’s work entitled The Third Space: Ambiguity in the Art of Graham Fletcher (2018) was exhibited at the Gus Fisher Gallery in Auckland and curated by Linda Tyler and Hannah Burgoyne. Fletcher lives in Dunedin and is Principal Lecturer at the Dunedin School of Art.
A conversation with Graham Fletcher
Can you please give us a brief description of your hopes for your Tylee Cottage Residency period
Over the residency period I plan to complete a series of paintings that will develop further my long-standing investigation of intercultural spaces. These paintings will continue to showcase affinities between the Old World and the New by blurring the boundary between landscape, architecture and the ethnographic object.
Tell us about your experiences making your art. For instance, how long does a piece take you generally? Do you do research? Is your creation process very physical, very cerebral? Is there a long gestation period?
When starting a new body of work, it can be slow going researching and building a treasury of images for preparatory drawings. But once I feel I have gathered enough source material, I then begin to make visual connections towards compositions for collages and drawings which then transition into paintings. And when the painting process is underway, it’s more a technical undertaking such as building up paint layers, colour corrections, finetuning the composition etc.
Is there an audience you particularly want to reach or a message that you hope to communicate?
Since 1997 my work as a painter has been concerned primarily with issues of location and dislocation from my viewpoint as a New Zealander of mixed Samoan and European heritage. More recently, I have been inspired by a number of private collections of tribal art, which led to my researching the critical legacy of the widespread European tradition of housing collections of Oceanic or African tribal art in domestic settings. Of particular relevance, as an artist of dual heritage, was the question of how this legacy might be appropriated and subverted within a contemporary Pacific and New Zealand context.
Are there themes that seem to pop up again and again in your work? What are they? Do you know why they are there?
I have always had an interest in material culture, in particular tribal carvings, which began to appear in my work intermittently throughout the 2000s. But over the last 10 years this has now become more of a constant element alongside interests in Modernist architecture and design.
What or who influences you? Is there something you find particularly inspiring?
Inspiration for me can come from anywhere and unexpectedly, but in saying this, planned visits to museums and galleries have been fruitful in the past in informing a direction in work. For example, an overseas trip to Europe in 2006 to research collections in significant museums and public galleries inspired my Lounge Room Tribalism series.