Kia Ora from Aotearoa New Zealand!

Hi there,
My name is Wesley John Fourie and I am an artist from New Zealand. I was scheduled to participate in the St. Petersburg Artist Residency at P-10 in July, and I am currently writing this in our third week of lockdown.

To begin this post, let me first introduce myself, and I practice, so here is my artist bio.

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Wesley John Fourie is an artist based on the Milford Track in UNESCO World Heritage Site, ’Fiordland National Park’ on the west coast of New Zealand’s south island. Their work explores the themes of nature, and spirituality.

Drawing heavily upon Hindu philosophy where all natural resources are considered as God’s ( a river, a mountain valley, etc.) Wesley John creates site specific textile installations that pay homage to each place in which they inhabit. Whether knitting the height of a mountain, a 1/100 scale of a river, the height of a waterfall, or the circumference of a body of water, Wesley John works to elevate these natural resources to divine status through art. These works act as shrine to their original bodies, or to be thought of as extensions of their natural bodies.

Their work is predominantly textile based, though has also been written, performative, drawing, and painting. Wesley John see’s art as a vehicle to raise awareness of the sacred status of our natural environment, and will often be found (when not in their studio) lost somewhere in the forest. Due to an interest in spirituality, they have spent extended periods of time across the Indian subcontinent.

Their work is held in private collections across New Zealand, India, Japan, Nepal, Germany, Italy, and Australia.

My artist practice is largely shaped by my keen personal interests, the two main points being a love for nature, and my relationship with The Divine (God, Allah, Yaweh, Krishna, or however else you choose to name this phenomenon). This has manifested in an interest in exploring animism through art, most recently through creating a series of “soft sculptures”, using measurements of natural bodies by the metrics to create shrines to them. The most recent project, Aoraki, is 3724m of hand knitting (matching the height of New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Aoraki, exactly).
This work was created over six months in artist residencies across India and Nepal in 2019, as an act of patriotism, and as a shrine to this sacred mountain, as it is culturally, spiritually, and economically important to New Zealand.

Aoraki at Riverton Art Center

Aoraki in TAIAO, group exhibition at Riverton Art Center, New Zealand, 2020.
Eternal Sunshine, Sacred Mountains at Hyogo_ya, Japan

Aoraki in Eternal Sunshine, Sacred Mountains, solo installation at Hyogo-Ya, Japan, 2020

Over the coming months I will be posting snapshots into my artistic practice, my thoughts and feelings as I navigate the current global pandemic that is COVID-19, and stories of my life working in a rain forest in Fiordland National Park, where I have worked for the last few years for six month of every year, onto this site. Over this time, I will also be creating a body of work inspired by the New Zealand landscape, including knit sculptures, embroidery, and macrame rock installations. These works are scheduled for exhibition across New Zealand on a domestic tour through 2020 and 2021, but this will obviously be dependent on the changing landscape of this outbreak.

Outside of my artistic practice, I love hiking in nature, listening to an eclectic playlist of everything between Talking Heads to the chanting of Gregorian monks, to Donna Summer. I also have a keen interest in travel, the most visited place being India, where I have lived over the past few years for a period of eight months total. I also enjoy cooking, and have been using the past few weeks in lockdown to deepen my relationship with cooking, a practical fundamental to our survival but so often neglected as an incredible experience.

Right, I think I have babbled enough for now, but it was nice getting to meet all of you! We shall speak again soon!

Nga Mihi,

Wesley John Fourie 🙂

www.wesleyjohnfourie.com

10 thoughts on “Kia Ora from Aotearoa New Zealand!

  1. Hi, Wes!
    So nice to connect here as well. Welcome to the virtual studio!
    I remember when we were starting the preparations for your residency and tried to arrange an online meeting while you were in the woods 🙂 Should be a great place to be right now (or any time, actually). What is your working situation and where are you at the moment?

    I hope your residency will still take place this year… Many people say things will get better during the warm months.
    In the meantime we’re looking forward to your posts!

    A questions you’ve been probably asked many times before: how did you discover knitting and why did you choose it as one of the main techniques for your current work?

    Warm vibes from St. Petersburg,
    Anastasia

    1. Hi Anastasia!
      Thanks for having me here 🙂
      Yes! As this whole pandemic developed I very much felt like there was nowhere in the world safter to be than in Milford right now.
      Over the lockdown period I am living with my aunt in the city of Dunedin, and I am currently working on some knit and embroidery projects, that I will be posting about over the next few days.

      I hope so too!
      I am very much looking forward to coming to Russia.

      I discovered knitting when I was in a bad mental health space in my life, and used it as a form of therapy. Over the following year, I knit two 20m “blankets” that worked as emotional ticket tapes, as I would knit whatever colour I was “feeling” in that moment. From this project, I became fascinated by wool and knitting as its one of the oldest techniques that belong to our species culturally, and for me it is important that these practices are continued.
      I try to utilize these practices and introduce them into the contemporary art context
      🙂

  2. Just googled and read a short article about “Kia Ora”. It literally means “stay healthy”, right? The Russian greeting “Здравствуй” (“Zdravstvuy”) means the same. Interesting how it goes through all languages.

  3. Yes!
    It is commonly used as a greeting here in NZ.
    Across Polynesia it stems from this, also Kia Orana for the Cook Islands, etc.

  4. Cool to see your work, the concepts behind your practice are very interesting! (knitting is a different way to engage with the environment, but it really works!) Also cool to see that you’re based in Dunedin throughout the lockdown – I am too – surprisingly small world! Stay safe!

    1. Can’t believe you’re in the same city and virtual SPAR is where you meet 🙂 It truly is a small world!

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