Claudia Jowitt

Sa lo na ua (Between Tides)

16th Oct –
9th Nov 2019

OPENING EVENT: Tuesday 15 October, 5.30 - 7.30pm
LATE NIGHT: Thursday 17 October 6-8pm
ARTIST TALK: Saturday 19 October, 11am

Rising star CLAUDIA JOWITT presents a solo exhibition as part of Artweek 2019 which extends her painting practise into the sculptural realm using casting processes as well as building up layer upon layer of luscious paint surfaces.

"Living in the South Pacific and on islands means bodies of water interconnect us. I live and work on the edge of the Whau river in Auckland and I try to spend time each year along the Hibiscus Coast in Savusavu, Fiji where Dad’s extended family lives and genealogy is from. I take up paintings with me on these trips and bring a lot back from there to influence my work, both in materials, knowledge and resources.

My works are often embedded with natural elements that I’ve gathered from water’s edge in New Zealand or Fiji. Sea shells, urchin & crab shells, along with found coral pieces from the shorelines and lagoon edges outside family homes in Fiji. Traditional materials such as masi (Fijian white tapa) or vau (Hibiscus fibre) are used as well. All these are broken down and spread throughout the base layers paintings. In the works for this show it is pared back a bit to just paua fragments and vau fibre.

I’ve been trying to mediate the possibility to create works that speak to a physical sense of place in the South Pacific and my own link to places within in. Developing my take on a South Pacific Contemporary abstract painting practice. I’ve been thinking a lot about how and why painting is relevant in this setting, rather than continually looking outward to Europe and America to set the rationale for a contemporary abstraction.

I’ve been looking to indigenous practices through the Pacific and how these reflect the natural world and the elements around them. Production of pattern and rhythm in the works through repetition of basic forms, as with tapa, tattoo practices, carving, weaving etc.

In some ways these works are love letters to the coral reefs around where I whakapapa to in Fiji, that I have seen struggle with global warming and the rise in cyclones hitting the coast.

I’ve also of course still thinking about what constitutes ‘feminine practice’ in the art world and where the line between craft and fine art is drawn. What has and still is considered to be women’s work and the craft pursuits that fit within this. The low brow connotations of ‘craft’ - what can be viewed as serious and what is not when viewed in an art setting.

Kitsch or parodying of things seen as feminine or gendered work – domestic tools – piping tools and kitchen spatulas to thread and cottons used for embroidery, or the range of materials I raid from my sewing kit, bits of leather, vinyl, fabrics. Odds and ends from a sort odd haberdashery collection I have in my studio.

The pastel colours I use are not only colours I have lifted directly off the coral reefs in Fiji butalso play up this ‘feminine’ parodying.

In some ways I’m doing all the things I thought were absolute no no’s in order to maintain a serious painting practice when I was in art school. But I want the work to be accessible of a number of levels, for their potential to be a bit of slapstick or tactility that draws you in or welcomes a viewer into the fold. Rather than a hermitically sealed work that speaks only to an art audience. I want my work to be inclusive or welcoming, with an element of good humour but at the same time maintaining a more in-depth undercurrent set of thoughts or gestures towards a broader conversation about painting, femininity and learning about my Fijian heritage. Really, they are a reflection of myself as a woman raised in the South Pacific trying to figure out what I stand for."

NOTE: Images are one view of each work only but are very sculptural.  Please see installation shots or get in touch for more images.




  1. Aug. 2019. Artweek Auckland at Melanie Roger Gallery