Emma Fitts


Emma Fitts ‘made material, made substantial’

Varicoloured, captivating and referential assemblages pertaining to the body are crafted by Emma Fitts. Rehabilitating histories, she takes as her subject matter well-known, local artistic and political personages such as Louise Henderson, Edith Collier, Frances Hodgkins, Olivia Spencer Bower and Marilyn Waring. Inspiration is provided by almost out-moded fashions, aged clothing patterns as well as worn bolts of cloth. Aside from these historically-informed re-visitations, Fitts also attempts to realise felt-states in configurations or block-like shapes of darkened fabrics that hover in space like the plans of half-remembered rooms.

Alluding to functional forms of seasonal attire such as the anorak, or furniture such as the garden chair, Fitts’ fabric tributes take the forms of large and generous canopies or banners. Suspended in space these material homages are stitched together from silks, linens or cottons thrifted and sourced from various second-hand shops. Layer upon layer of contrasting materials, prints and textures are brought together to form splendid drops or curtains of conglomerate textiles. Each enjoys a particular palette, jewel-like magentas and apricots; camouflage khakis with garden greens or egg-yolk yellows paired within monochromatic prints. They fall and fold creating broken up colour fields evoking architectural features such as doors, windows, even portals. Fitts has also made anxious objects made of leather and velvet that hang twisted from wooden hooks, echoing absent bodies. Additionally, she has erected thin calcified columns, bony and white that pretend to incrementally provide architectural support.

Accessory to attentive processes of research are these silken drapes, celebratory and proclamatory- splayed upon walls. These fabric works are in fact carefully constructed collages conjured up from melanges of collected and fingered fabrics. Each abstraction acts as an ensign for waylaid histories with the slight materiality of blousons, wall-hangings or scenic backdrops. Door, window, portal, pillar, curtain or hook: each is evidence of gentle gatherings or acts of bringing together diverse materials that then diagram prior or past presences and peoples.

Emma Fitts has studied at both the University of Canterbury and the Glasgow School of Art. Although based in the United Kingdom since 2009 Fitts regularly returns to New Zealand to exhibit her work in both solo and group exhibitions in public, private and artist-run galleries as well as domestic spaces. Work by Fitts is currently being shown with work by her frequent collaborator Kirstin Carlin as part of Necessary Distraction: A Painting Show at the Auckland Art Gallery and recent projects include: VH-16- 22-7-12-3-22-5 (Victor & Hester, Glasgow, 2015), Dreams of Machines (Transmission, Glasgow, 2015), Fit-out for Olivia Spencer Bower (Ilam Gallery, Christchurch, 2015) 74 Heaton St, Christchurch with Kirstin Carlin (2014), Bomber Jacket for Marilyn Waring (St Paul St, Auckland, 2014) and Sports Jacket for Marlow Moss (Physics Room, Christchurch, 2014). In 2014 Fitts was the Oliver Spencer Bower awardee in Christchurch. She was the 2018 McCahon House Artist in Residence.

Emma Fitts has a solo exhibition scheduled at Melanie Roger Gallery in mid-November 2019.

Selected Media.

  1. Emma Fitts Te Uru Installation
    John Hurrell, Eyecontact review
  2. Fitts on Spencer Bower
    Warren Feeney, Eyecontact review
  3. Silk, Linen, Leather, Denim, Grass, Cotton, Felt
    Melanie Oliver, Ilam Gallery exhibition text
  4. Painting in The Physics Room
    Andrew Paul Wood, Eyecontact review


  1. Emma Fitts | Softly Spoken | Hastings Art Gallery
  2. Emma Fitts | Headlands Center for the Arts Residency, San Francisco
  3. Emma Fitts | Towards Another Figure| Ashburton Art Gallery
  4. Emma Fitts | In the Rough Parts 1,2 & 3 | Te Uru
  5. Emma Fitts | Fullbright Wallace Art Award
  6. Emma Fitts | McCahon House Collaborative Dinner & Open Studio
  7. Emma Fitts | We Do This | Christchurch Art Gallery
  8. Emma Fitts | Art Collector magazine
  9. Emma Fitts | McCahon House Residency Announcement
  10. Emma Fitts & Kirstin Carlin | Crane Brothers Pop Up
  11. Emma Fitts | From Pressure to Vibration - The Event of a Thread | Dowse Art Museum
  12. An Occasional Rant | Female representation in New Zealand Galleries
  13. Kirstin Carlin & Emma Fitts | Necessary Distraction Publication
  14. KIRSTIN CARLIN & EMMA FITTS | Necessary Distraction | Auckland Art Gallery
  15. Florence and Friends | Flotsam and Jetsam Pop-up Project
  16. EMMA FITTS | Embodying the Archive | The Physics Room
  17. Guest Artist | Emma Fitts