What do you do?
I take photographs. To be more specific, I reconcile the technical precision of a large format film camera with my insistent and wayward imagination. I also have a rather eventful family life with three children, aged five and under.
What was the first artwork that made an impact on you?
Bronzino’s portrait of Bia de Medici. I had a framed print of it in my bedroom when I was young. Given the cultural landscape of the North Shore at the time, it was something that I valued and never grew tired of looking at. I can see her in my minds’ eye now, on the wall above my magenta candlewick-covered bed. Bia was a young child, about my age. Her eyes followed me around the room and I couldn’t escape her gaze. She wore grey-blue satin with impressive puffed sleeves, and I was always aware of her hands, especially that gently symbolic pincer grip on the chain draped across her lap.
What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?
Anything that enables me to be creative and obsessive. Ideally something related to movies, like costume design or production design. I’m fascinated by the behind-the-scenes aspect of cinema. There are similarities with my photoshoots but on a smaller scale. To me, the staging of my photographs, the devising and procuring of the elements, is perhaps the most meaningful part of making an image.
Share a recipe or secret from your lockdown kitchen?
There are no recipes in our lockdown kitchen; my oppositional personality means that I resent following instructions. I can’t go there with cookbooks. And life is rather chaotic right now. Food is fuel, to be snatched at while lurching from one set of tasks and demands to the next. Dinner(for me) might be a handful of vegan chocolate chip biscuits or a bowl of sauerkraut, tofu, broccoli, and raw carrots doused in tamari and my favourite condiment, Culley’s no. 10 Carolina Reaper sauce. After that, I might have a mini-binge on dark chocolate and fall asleep on the lounge floor. This all happens daily at around 4.30pm.
Yvonne Todd is represented by Ivan Anthony Gallery, Auckland and McLeavey Gallery, Wellington