My ART | Artist: Kate van der Drift

Artist: Kate van der Drift

Artist: Kate van der Drift

What do you do?

I am a photographer. At the moment I’m working on a long-form project in the Hauraki Plains. I’ve been making and taking field notes, mostly video and sound recordings as well as burying unexposed large format film in lightproof holders in tributaries of the Piako River. I’m calling these images ‘river exposures’ because they are created in the absence of light over 2-4 weeks. The pollution and nutrients in the water from surrounding industry and land use run-off, mixed with organic matter and bacteria are producing clouds of vivid alchemical reactions.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

I think I would have studied marine biology in my earlier days had I not studied art. The ocean is definitely my favourite place to be. But if I was to re-train now I’d want to work in freshwater ecology or regenerative agriculture as I see so much possibility (and necessity) for change in Aotearoa New Zealand’s land and water use.

Who is your ideal studio buddy?

I don’t have a studio buddy right now so it gets a bit lonely in the studio by myself! I suppose that is why I’ve been working from home a bit more. Luckily I live with another artist, Kathryn Tulloch, so I get to have some more informal studio type chats at home; what we’ve been reading and thinking about, ideas, challenges, show’s we’ve seen etc. We have a lot of cross overs in our fields of interest and I really respect her opinion and the differences in the ways we think.

What are you listening to?

This week I’ve been listening to a really great series of conversations called Our Regenerative Futures by Pure Advantage. It’s a 12 episode podcast created last year that focuses on themes of ecological regeneration; the ways in which we can help natural systems rebuild diversity, vitality and resilience through soil carbon sequestration in regenerative agriculture and horticulture, and thoughtful conversations on regenerative forestry, tourism and the economy. It’s very inspiring and hopeful. I’ve also been listening to two photo art conversational podcasts, Magic Hour and The Messy Truth.

What are you reading?

I’m currently finishing my Master’s degree at Elam so the books next to my bed will hopefully make their way into my piece of writing for that this year. It’s all-encompassing so there isn’t any space for anything else in my mind right now. A selection of that stack includes Barbara Hurd’s beautiful poetic observational writings in Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination. Te Mahi Oneone Hua Parakore: A Māori Soil Sovereignty and Wellbeing Handbook by Jessica Hutchings and Jo Smith. I’m re-reading Decolonising Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology by T.J Demos. Also halfway through William Bryant Logans book, Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth.

What’s next?

I have a show, Sweet and Sour open until 19 May at Sanderson Contemporary. The exhibition includes the series of river exposures I have been making over the past 14 months in the Hauraki Plains. In July, I have another exhibition called From Things Flow, at RM artist-run gallery with three others, Teresa Peters, Shelley Simpson and Kathryn Tulloch.

April 2021

Kate van der Drift is represented by Sanderson Contemporary, Auckland