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 from 2009 - 2017 Fitts regularly returned 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. Exhibitions have included "Kirstin Carlin, Emma Fitts and Joanna Margaret Paul (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2021), "Touching Sight" (Christchurch Art Gallery, 2020 - 2021),  "IFF: An Ideal Museum" (Melanie Roger Gallery. 2019),  "Softly Spoken" (Hastings Art Gallery, 2019), "Towards Another Figure" (Ashburton Art Gallery, 2019), "In The Rough: Parts 1, 2 & 3" (Te Uru Gallery, 2019), "We Do This" (Christchurch Art Gallery, 2018), "From Pressure to Vibration: The Event of a Thread" (Dowse Art Gallery, 2017), "Embodying the Archive" (The Physics Room, 2016) and with her frequent collaborator Kirstin Carlin - "Necessary Distraction: A Painting Show" (Auckland Art Gallery, 2016) Other 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. In 2018 she was a McCahon House Artist in Residence with a resulting solo exhibition at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery. She was a 2019 artist in residence at Headlands Centre for the Arts in San Francisco after winning the Flullbright Wallace Trust Award in 2018.  In 2020, her work was featured as one of three artists at the Christchurch Art Gallery in the exhibition "Touching Sight" curated by Melanie Oliver. Her current commissioned work "Lapping at your Door" is on view at Objectspace in Auckland from April 2022 - April 2023.

Emma Fitts currently lives and works in Christchurch, New Zealand.


Selected Media.

  1. Emma Fitts is Wrapping Buildings up in Paintings
    Ginny Fisher, Viva - NZ Herald
  2. Thinking Out Loud: Lapping at Your Door
    Emma Fitts interview, Art Now
  3. An Art of Unbounded Storytelling
    Bronwyn Lloyd, Art News magazine
  4. Emma Fitts Te Uru Installation
    John Hurrell, Eyecontact review
  5. Fitts on Spencer Bower
    Warren Feeney, Eyecontact review
  6. Silk, Linen, Leather, Denim, Grass, Cotton, Felt
    Melanie Oliver, Ilam Gallery exhibition text
  7. Painting in The Physics Room
    Andrew Paul Wood, Eyecontact review


  1. EMMA FITTS | Living Room | Objectspace, Christchurch
  2. Emma Fitts | The Air, Like a Stone | The Physics Room
  3. Studio Visit: Emma Fitts
  4. Emma Fitts | Crosses and Losses | Pah Homestead
  5. Emma Fitts | Evolutions of Galaxies | Mada Gallery, Monash University
  6. Emma Fitts | Lapping at Your Door | Objectspace
  7. Emma Fitts | Full House
  8. Studio Visit: Emma Fitts
  9. Emma Fitts | Touching Sight | Christchurch Art Gallery
  10. Artists in Isolation: Emma Fitts
  11. Emma Fitts | McCahon House editions
  12. Emma Fitts | Paint Etc. | Corbans Estate Arts Centre
  13. Emma Fitts | Softly Spoken | Hastings Art Gallery
  14. Emma Fitts | Headlands Center for the Arts Residency, San Francisco
  15. Emma Fitts | Towards Another Figure| Ashburton Art Gallery
  16. Emma Fitts | In the Rough Parts 1,2 & 3 | Te Uru
  17. Emma Fitts | Fullbright Wallace Art Award
  18. Emma Fitts | McCahon House Collaborative Dinner & Open Studio
  19. Emma Fitts | We Do This | Christchurch Art Gallery
  20. Emma Fitts | Art Collector magazine
  21. Emma Fitts | McCahon House Residency Announcement
  22. Emma Fitts & Kirstin Carlin | Crane Brothers Pop Up
  23. Emma Fitts | From Pressure to Vibration - The Event of a Thread | Dowse Art Museum
  24. An Occasional Rant | Female representation in New Zealand Galleries
  25. Kirstin Carlin & Emma Fitts | Necessary Distraction Publication
  26. KIRSTIN CARLIN & EMMA FITTS | Necessary Distraction | Auckland Art Gallery
  27. Florence and Friends | Flotsam and Jetsam Pop-up Project
  28. EMMA FITTS | Embodying the Archive | The Physics Room
  29. Guest Artist | Emma Fitts