My ART | Artist: Nicola Farquhar

Artist: Nicola Farquhar

Artist: Nicola Farquhar

Who or what is your ideal studio buddy?

Just quiet, calm, nice people, nearby but not too close. Strangely, I even find my electric fan good company in my studio. It’s sort of humanoid, a little bit of sound and movement but nothing erratic or distracting. Only annoying thing is I have to check about 500 times that I’ve switched it off when I leave, so its companionship does bring some anxiety.

What images keep you company in the studio?

Just my own.

Name an exhibition you have seen recently that made an impact on you?

In March (just in the knick of time), I saw Petit a Petit at Neo Gracie in Auckland, with artists Dotti Neugebauer, Georgette Brown, and Kathryn Aucamp. I loved the blending of artists, and curation by Owen Connors: it is not untroubled by the moment, but it is joyous and hopeful.

What could you imagine doing if you weren’t an artist?

As some kind of cool down from finishing my exhibition this year I had a go at writing (what appears to be) a country and western song. Perhaps I could produce one of these per fortnight; someone would sing them, and I would get paid? But it would be hard to not just go looking for some other kind of overwhelming sensation. Instead perhaps, I would time travel and witness the epic prehistoric flooding of the Mediterranean basin. For a time it had been reduced to a salt desert by volcanic shifts, and when this barrier was breached the gushing Atlantic created a wall of water 4 km high! Imagine the sea with all its enduring extremophiles and other creatures, falling over itself, replenishing a desert and making a sublime statement about the power of earths’ geological time. I read the other day “a mother is always a mystery; she has lived so much of her life before you were even born.” It’s like that with the earth too – it’s mind-boggling to think about, but uplifting also; to know we are relatively infinitesimal, but still part of the party, each body carrying a little bit of matter forward.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?

In the library I discovered the surrealists. They were sophisticated and exotic, especially so looking out from 1980’s Hamilton. The work I remember the most however is Dora Maar’s Pere Ubu. Perhaps – being still kind of a baby myself then – I saw Ubu as some sort of baby or pet. Or perhaps I recognised that Ubu countered the terrifying masculine modernism that was otherwise in abundance. Ubu is fetal, ambiguous, colourless and suspended, and curiously open for anthropomorphic transgressions: an offer of rescue, a way out to the future.

What are you reading?

Transforming contagion by Breanne Fahs, Annika Mann, Eric Swank, and Sarah Stage; and Kitchen Curse by Eka Kurniawan.

What is art for?

It’s a portal through which we humans chatter to each other – linking us through the past, present and future.

June 2020
Photo: David Straight
Nicola Farquhar is represented by Mossman, Wellington