I haven’t been inactive over the last 3 months but I haven’t been blogging!

After Whanganui, the Place exhibition travelled to Auckland and had a showing at All Goods (a former Bank building in Avondale run by Whau The People collective – https://whauthepeople.com/all-goods-whau-arts-space/ ). Wonderful showing alongside Pusi Urale’s gorgeous Blonde Maiden series with King Kapisi doing the honours at the opening.

That was July!

Then came winter, and the slow germination of work for Kaipara Coast Sculpture Garden, opening in December, for Artweek (opening next week) in two locations, and new teaching projects which as always rekindled my passion for the teaching of visual arts in school from the earliest days.

The work for Artweek (http://artweekauckland.co.nz/) will be in two locations. (Photos to come next week after they are installed).

My “Marginals” are off to spend a week in a very elegant minimalist foyer (the Spark building in Victoria St West) with black granite floor, This is as part of “Flora”, curated by Lyn Dallison for Auckland Council. I am very pleased about that location, once a clifftop overlooking the Waitemata harbour. From this high point you would have been able to see little bays and mangrove-fringed inlets. Today the land has encroached on those bays, “reclaimed” and built on so it is much further to the sea. The mangroves have multiplied, fed by run-off from farms and orchards, and fill large areas now but are suffering as they attempt to absorb the increased toxins. So here come the refugees, migrant mutants in search of a clean start. The bottom of the cliff is coming to the top of the cliff! A message, you might say.

In preparation I have been on my knees in the shed, making soft bootees for their legs to avoid scratching the floor!


And, inside away from the ever-falling Spring rain, the wool and wire epiphytes have been growing.

For LOOK, as part of DUST collective’s entry (http://www.dustartcollective.net/), I have a small wall-hanging epiphyte, one of my trial wire and paper-mache pieces when I moved into plants with roots. The mounting of the group’s work, which Linda Roche and I are jointly curating and hanging, has been quite a job! My Technical Assistant, Mo, has been essential once more, constructing a fake wall to hang the pictures on.

And as a constant refrain, the branches for mistletoe plants for Kaipara Coast, take shape. Almost ready to assemble!

Once again I was drawn to this plant because of environmental challenges which threaten its existence.

The New Zealand mistletoes are a mix of epiphyte and parasite. They are, apart from one, only found on one type of tree. Reduction in forest and in bird numbers has meant huge reductions in mistletoe numbers as it needs a bird to eat the berries, and then poop out the seed onto a branch of the right type of tree. Only a few specimens of those varieties are still found. The one I have based my work on (but not its colour!) is Ileostylus micranthus, which is much less fussy about where it grows, even taking hold on exotic trees. Even so, I have never seen one and they are quite limited to particular areas.  “Kiss Kiss” will , I hope, draw attention to the need for forest which is large and dense enough that such plants will continue to thrive along with the fauna that are a vital part of the ecosystem. The mistletoe clusters will be placed inside a wee shelter, down in the forest area at the beautiful Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens (http://www.kaiparacoast.co.nz/sculpturegardens.php).



Harbourview and then Between Tides


In busy times it is hard to keep up with both making and presenting/explaining one’s art!

The mangroves made their way along the motorway, on a trailer, to the Te Atatu Peninsula and then down over the tussocky grass to a mown clearing where they posed in a silent dance near their smaller real-life cousins.

Their stay there ended, they now greet me from our neighbour’s front garden every time I leave the house, surprisingly camouflaged under two tall trees.


Then we had Between Tides – a huge event in that it was billed as (Probably the Final) Between Tides. This annual community art event has become increasingly popular, and drawn a wide range of exhibitors including a number of performers. Perhaps in fact, we hope, there may be some among them who choose to carry on with BT, but for the Jersey group it is time to step back now. We are no longer all in Auckland or all available. It has been a wonderful event to stimulate more experimental ideas since they only had to be on the beach for about five hours, as well as resolved works having their moment in the sun (wind and rain).

The day – for the first time in fourteen years – was really wet! We had had some anxiety about maybe having to pack up earlier than 2pm because of the time and height of the tide, but in fact steady rain set in just before 1 so by 1.30 everyone had de-camped. Hardy visitors and artists had up to that point managed with umbrellas the occasional heavy shower and ongoing drizzle, but the rain became a real soaker. It was in a way an exhilarating, if abrupt ending.

My main work, ‘The catch with plastic’, is on the left. A theme others also had in mind (see Vonney Ball’s amazing wire fish caught on three rods). In a flurry of enthusiasm I decided, after years of some visitors querulously appealing for some guide as to whose work they might be looking at (we have a policy of no labels, mostly to encourage interaction with the artists who are generally around!) to make a map. And four of my last year’s swimmers (who were hanging from the pohutakawa, as they had the year before hung over a plaza at Victoria Park Market) had obviously been for a dip and found it very chilly as they sat looking blue and wet on the rocks. (Paper mache over a wire armature is quite possible to re-pose – just needed a bit of patching, which turned into their blue skins).

Juliette Laird net

(Thanks to Cate Dine for the photo)

Many thanks to all those who contributed in many ways to Between Tides and in particular to those who provided the images – a selection of which are below.


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Walking trees

A site specific practice constantly brings new forms to explore. Earlier this year I was invited to participate in ‘one’s own trade’, a group exhibition and silent auction based on exchanging goods or services for artworks. Organised by Hannah Davis-Gray and Harriet Stockman, this took place in containers provided by Waterfront Auckland which were situated in an area where, historically, the loading and unloading of freight and passengers had taken place.
From Te Wero bridgeCustom tradersThe crate


I think there is an inherent tension in marginal places and borders and am interested in the adaptations of life and life-forms that exist in/on the periphery of distinct or incompatible zones. Earlier experiments with root systems extending my yarn branches had generated ideas of trees that walked because of the springiness of the wire roots. Root trial (4)

The waterfront location started me thinking about the plants which exist in the intertidal zone and quickly led to paper mache versions of mangrove saplings which (not in New Zealand but in tropical areas) can stand proud of the mud and water on long roots. Red mangrove

The finished 5 mangroves were grouped, root/legs entwined and in the end gained a number of great bids so I was able to get help to do a massive cleanup and prune in the garden (work with real plants that I don’t do because I am sitting mulling over or making facsimiles of plants!)

Publicity shot Meola mangroves

The tide went out, the art came in

Between Tides 2015 – another stunningly beautiful day with brilliant blue sky and a soft breeze. ‘Hung out to dry’ stood up although it had a very fragile makeshift look to it, and the people-shapes fluttered like prayer flags.

Hung out to dry

Hung out to dry

This year the works seemed more spread out, but walking around on the sand there was a lot to be seen that wasn’t obvious from a distance. Here is a quick overview of who was there on Sunday March 1st:

A dance performance by the Overflow group and the TAPAC Creative Contemporary children’s dance group dramatically illustrated the lethal effect of plastic on the marine environment and brought a whole additional audience to the beach.

Overflowstarts Overflowboysputrubbishin recyclingbin

The month of exhibitions

This time of year is becoming associated for me with significant artistic milestones. In 2012 I was setting up my 4 pohutakawa branches, grafted onto host trees and within weeks Rob Garrett had invited me to develop similar work to take to Poland.
Almost exactly one year ago we arrived in Gdansk, a bag of knitted branches in hand, to take part in Narracje 5 – and in 2014 those branches have just completed a week at the Wellington Museum of City and Sea – this time combined into 2 small trees – as part of the 70th Anniversary celebrations of the Children of Pahiatua .

Oct 2014 049

Opening out the branches Attaching to the stake Trying out lighting

I felt so proud, especially as a non-Pole, to be invited to be a part of the Polish festival in Wellington. I felt that my artwork had achieved a wonderful completeness with this re-presentation.

After the colourful and social weekend away in Wellington it was back to the finishing touches on the little people of O Peretu ( Fort Takapuna). This last weekend I set them up in their clifftop site.

Unsettled 1

The wire leg extensions mostly slipped between remnants of bricks and rubble that for some reason had been dumped on that spot so the crowbar I’d taken was only needed once and an old screwdriver would have done. There they stand now – frozen in flight, from or towards something not explained – a story the visitor can create for themselves. Sculpture on Shore opens on Thursday this week – I can’t wait to return and have a good look at the work I just glimpsed when I was there on Sunday.

Current projects

Recently opened at Artstation is the exhibition, “Cupboards: a family geography and material history” curated by the Domestic Craft and Contemporary Art Group. Open until 13 April this show explores a potent theme and has had a very positive reception from those visiting it, and featured in Saturday’s NZ Herald (Weekend supplement). My small tissue paper mache work was a reflection on the stored histories often found at the back of the family medicine cabinet.


My ongoing big project is creating the work which I will show in Gdansk in November 2013 at Narracje. This new work has been commissioned by Rob Garrett, the 2013 curator of Narracje.

The work expands on ‘Intrusions’ – four branches grafted onto Pohutakawa trees at Fort Takapuna as part of Sculpture OnShore 2012.

Intrusion 1NZSoS 2012 J Laird IntrusionsIntrusion 4 Intrusion 3 Intrusion 2 <a

As Narracje takes place at night, this new work will change in mood and association, and obviously lighting will be a significant element.