Artist Lynette Fisher is obsessed with nostalgia and memory. We chatted about the imaginary worlds of children, staying home during lockdown, and Lemmy the budgie. Keep reading to learn about Lynette’s upcoming exhibition at The Incubator, too!
Your occupation, job title, artistic discipline (or very brief description of what you do):
I am a full time artist. I also teach part time at Toi Ohomai on the Creative Industries degree. In a previous life I was a picture framer and curator at a succession of small local dealer galleries, and worked for the Incubator Creative Hub as their creative co-ordinator.
What are the earliest stories you remember hearing? The ones that told you about the world?
Both my parents were schoolteachers, so every opportunity my dad had to educate us was taken – mainly on trips to Auckland in the car where there was no escaping the history of New Zealand. Tales of Māori chiefs and Dally gumdiggers entwined with astronomy, pop quizzes and random family anecdotes. Pretty much everything that I paint comes from that kind of story telling.
What’s your favourite Bay of Plenty landscape, park, building, location, suburb, or side street? Why?
The saddle in the Kaimai ranges. It’s what I have grown up around (either side) my whole life, so it means home to me.
What’s an average day in your life at present?
I am really lucky to work from home in my studio, so I’m pretty much in there from 8am. Basically, I am working on the exhibitions I have coming up – painting, writing content, researching, emailing, photographing – all to the background of Lemmy the budgie chirping over whatever podcast I’m into, with one ear out for the goats in case they’ve gotten into the garden.
You have an exhibition coming up at The Incubator Creative Hub that uses nostalgia as its hook. Can you tell us more about how the themes of nostalgia and the ‘new normal’ are used, and why they are important to you?
Yes I do! It opens on Thursday May 14th and runs for three weeks after that until the 5th June.
I have used the title of one of the works as the theme, which was really fitting – “Go home, stay home,” was what we all did! We suddenly had restrictions that we had to work around and a whole lot of time to fill. I started thinking about how given space, children naturally use their imagination to fill their days and started making comparisons to a childhood maybe 30, 40 or more years ago. I’m really just illustrating that kids really haven’t changed that much – they still have common idiosyncrasies – the way they get into their own little worlds and react within the family unit. I often come across imagery from 100 years ago, and the kids today still do the exact same things given space and their own resources. I am pretty obsessed with nostalgia and memory, it has become a recurring theme throughout all of my work.
Do you have any anecdotes from your own childhood that you’ve reflected in your work?
Many! But nothing really that most of us didn’t get up to – I grew up in the country, so there was a lot of running around until dark / pet rescue / fairy garden scenarios. I did really like wind and would put on my twirliest skirt to find the “helicopter” seeds from the maple tree with my brother. Then we would typically fight over whose would go the furthest. But I also spent hours in my bedroom making stuff and drawing into notebooks.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about your exhibition?
I’m definitely looking forward to hanging out with my old work mates at The Incubator again! And it will be great to see the whole body of work up all together. All the paintings are the same size and all in the same round format – and if I don’t curate anything out, there will be 18… so, potentially there will be some that don’t make the cut, or will be painted over or added to between now and then. Please feel welcome to come and have a look – I will be there some days during the week, and on most Saturdays while the show is on. I will be updating those days and times through the usual channels – email, Facebook, Instagram.
What music was present and still memorable from your youth/adolescence?
My first real music obsessions were David Bowie and the Beatles. I also had a friend whose parents had the best vinyl collection – we would angle the speakers and lie on our backs singing Genesis ‘Mama’ at the top of our lungs. Of course that developed into my love for 80s post punk and 90s grunge. I’m not cool at all.
For you as a creative person, who are three influential artists or thinkers?
I have so many, this is a really hard question to answer! Anyone who takes creative risks, has a unique personal view and has a narrative in their work is interesting or influential to me. I am not drawn so much to trends or décor art.
Ralph Hotere’s unapologetic refusal to explain his work alongside his unwavering support and collaboration with his fellow artists. He truly captures an uncanny feel in his work which is universal and timeless.
Tracy Emin’s bad-ass uncompromising practice – always unafraid to change it up. She really makes you question what looking at art means. The best art is challenging.
I have a bit of an art crush on Justin Paton (head curator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales) and how he writes about art and artists. Articulate and accessible.
If you went away from the Bay of Plenty for a long time and then came back, what are the first three things you would do or visit?
I would get a coffee and a little something something at Te Puna deli, check out what’s going on at the art gallery then go and get the downlow on what else is happening from the team at The Incubator.
Looking back at your teen-age self: what one sentence describes that person?
Black-wearing art kid – nothing has changed.
If you had to eat the same meal every day, what would it be?
Carbonara, merlot, crème brulee and coffee. In that order.
What are you planning for 2021 that nobody knows about yet?
A couple of fantastic woman artists and I have had a proposal accepted to put on an exhibition at the Calder & Lawson gallery at Waikato University. I’m kinda freaking out, but also excited by the challenge.
In one sentence, can you define art?
No, I can’t. Not in one sentence. See what I did there?!
What is missing or lacking from your Bay of Plenty community or environment?
A museum that tells the stories of Tauranga Moana. It is mind blowing to me that the value and importance of this is lost on so many people.
Name a few films that you consider profound, moving or extraordinary?
I didn’t know how to answer this until I went to Cousins a couple of weeks ago. Stunning. Profound.
What was your first real job, second, third?
My first ever job was working at a record exchange shop in Greerton called Luigi’s Emporium. I spent my wages on Bowie, Carol King, The Pretenders and T Rex (when Spandau Ballet, UB40 and the Style Council were the cool bands…)
After I finished my first round of study at AUT, I worked as a commercial artist, then I scored a job working as a gallery assistant at Harrisons. I guess the rest is history.
Where would you like to live, but have yet to?
I have a romantic idea of living in New York, but I hear it’s cold. I would settle for Melbourne.
What word of advice would you offer an aspiring creative person?
Keep working. Then go and visit as many shows, exhibitions, plays, and performances you can. Introduce yourself to the people you want to work with and build relationships. Then read some good books. Then read some bad books. Then keep working.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
I’d like to let everyone know that there is a growing excellent art scene in the Bay of Plenty that I am proud to have a small part in. Also being an artist is flippin’ awesome, but it is genuinely hard work!
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