Thursday, January 26, 2017

Introducing: Belinda Griffiths

Recently I cornered Belinda Griffiths and got her talking about how she got started as an artist, her 2014 Art Residency in Winnipeg, Canada and what she is working on now. Belinda is one of our newest Left-field members, who is currently using our cabin as her studio.…………………………

Belinda studied a Bachelor of Design at AUT, going on to work as a designer and stylist for about 6 years, while painting on the side. She became particularly interested in painting the human figure and in capturing emotion and mood. She made the decision to start painting full time in 2004. She credits a year-long professional practice course with artist and tutor Matthew Browne as helping her to focus her practice and work out where she wanted it to go. Belinda has now been working full time painting and printmaking for about 13 years.

A notable achievement in Belinda’s career was in 2010 when she won the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award which she said was a welcome affirmation in the decision to make art her career. Belinda also won the NZ Art Show's Wine Label Award in 2011, (which saw her work printed on numerous bottles of award winning wine) and the Uxbridge Estuary Art Award in 2013.

In 2014 Belinda took part in a short term Art Residency in Winnipeg, Canada hosted by MAWA [Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art] where she, her husband, 3 year old daughter and 6 year old son stayed in the residency’s studio and accommodation. Here she spent time talking with, recording and videoing local women artists. She then chose still shots from the videos, which were used as reference for a series of prints that were exhibited at the end of the residency. The way in which the material was gathered allowed Belinda to gather honest, open captures of the women as they spoke about issues that really meant something to them - their art practice and how they balanced that with family.

The mark making that is evident in Belinda’s work plays an important role in conveying the emotion of her subject. Belinda's resistance to using traditional processes and methods around the figurative genre allows her work to stand on its own two feet.

Belinda said she learnt a lot from the art residency experience and found she was still processing it all, long after she was back home in NZ. At the end of the residency Belinda made the most of travelling around Canada visiting galleries and museums in Toronto and Montreal and Vancouver. She was asked to write a dispatch piece about her residency experience in New Zealand's ArtNews Magazine the following year.

 The MAWA residency came at a time when Belinda was actively seeking a change of environment and new influences for her work. Being an artist as well as a mother to young children, Belinda relished the opportunity to step out of her home-studio environment and experience a change of scenery. MAWA is an artist organisation run specifically to support women artists in Winnipeg and it gave Belinda the chance to have conversations with artists which were useful and relevant to both aspects of her life.

MAWA also helped Belinda realise the importance of community and to appreciate the support structure that an artist group can offer. Luckily for Left-field, this realisation brought Belinda to us. She believes feedback from other artists is important because they will be more likely to understand the need for you to push boundaries in your own work, and encourage you to take those necessary leaps rather than playing it safe.

Belinda is currently working on a series of prints which will form part of a group show which she is also curating at New Zealand Steel Gallery. The exhibition which celebrates ‘monotype as a medium’, includes four other notable printmakers and runs from the 22nd April - 27th May.

Technically, the print series will draw inspiration from work she has done over the last few years, including the pieces she did while in Winnipeg, but they will be on a much larger scale. She sees this show as an exciting opportunity to explore a change in scale for her printmaking work.

Belinda loves the monotype process and is more comfortable using acrylics rather than printing inks due to her painting background. She has developed a process that works for her through trial and error and enjoys discovering what the medium can and can't do. She also enjoys the element of surrender when working in the medium of printmaking. The marks that happen without intention; the ones she’s not expecting to get, are what she feels makes the process, as well as the result, so interesting.

Belinda also has a group show coming up with five women artists at Railway St Studio in Newmarket working around the theme of perspective. So ………… this space!

By Sarah Walker-Holt and Belinda Griffiths Jan 2017
Images: Sarah Walker-Holt