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.
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.
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!
Wesley John Fourie 🙂