Graduate Interview | Elam Fine Arts | Part Two

This year, as part of our Graduate Series, Artists Alliance is running group interviews series with Graduates from various visual arts schools throughout Aotearoa. This latest interview is in two parts, and features recent graduates from Elam at the University of Auckland, sharing moments from their time at art school. This interview was made possible due to the fantastic Elam Graduate website.

Can you tell us about a stand out moment from your time studying at Elam?
What does your work look / sound / feel / smell like?

Mano Pihema

I once made a remote controlled pot plant. It was pretty fast too.


My recent work smells and tastes like whichever room it happens to be situated within. However its visual and audible stimuli changes depending on whether you’re wearing the provided headset. If so you will be walking through my mum’s home up north, within a collection of photo-spheres and recorded ambient sounds.

Mariadelle Gamit

Initially I expected formal ‘crits’ to yield epiphanies, ground-breaking realisations or inspirations. But, it’s in the intimate after-studio conversations with my fellow ELAM peers that I found comfort and motivation whenever my project or my practice slows down. These casual exchange of words definitely stood out from my entire ELAM experience because not only has it successfully alleviated tough spots during my projects, it has also forged friendships that will definitely last beyond my time in ELAM.

The project’s main focus was to explore and visualise the ‘grey area’ in which I operate. Humour is the primary tone used when generating responses to issues involving my identity. Stereotypical characters manifest themselves as placeholders for who I am as well as who I am not.


Mariadelle Gamit, I Can’t Even (image courtesy of the University of Auckland)

Because my practice is a cathartic process, external experiences drive and determine the output and the mood. Crude, low-resolution and nonsensical images called Memes, online games, music videos, TV shows, endless scrolling through social networking feeds, swiping, clicking and the soft artificial glow of light from screens provided comfort. Images are appropriated based on what I personally identify with, their resolution and quality betraying the screens they are derived from.

My final work functions as a rebellion as well as an affirmation of how the internet space can host marginalised and fragmented identities such as myself.

(Alane) Sue Paterson

The standout moment for me from my time studying at Elam was definitely walking away after my final hand-in and feeling proud of what I had presented.  I left the institution happy in the understanding that I had gained a huge amount of knowledge and expertise and knowing that I had worked alongside incredibly talented people (both peers and tutors) over the previous four years of study.


(Alane) Sue Paterson, Universal 2, universal steel beams, florescent tube, electrical cord (photo courtesy of the artist)

My work focuses upon material exploration and those quieter moments when materials intersect and new moments are created by the formation of mutually beneficial relationships, which exhibit the unique properties of each material.  I hope that my work feels quiet and invites the viewer to take time to slow down and reflect upon materials; to have another look at a material which they previously may not have considered or overlooked.  I hope that the material is given an opportunity to asset its own power; to call or hail the viewer to observe it.


(Alane) Sue Paterson, Eighty Hours, hand polished copper boxes, florescent tubes, electrical cord (photo courtesy of the artist)

Uma Tuffnell 

One of the most memorable moments from my degree was making a site specific installation on the roof of the physics department in the university. It was a challenging yet valuable experience to engage with different groups outside of the art context which opened up potential to produce something different which responded to wind and weather of its own accord.

Atmospheric Testing Space from Uma Tuffnell on Vimeo.

My work is changeable and unpredictable, with a life of its own. It smells like the wind and feels plastic-y. It looks like a living organism.

Winnie Edgar Bootie

I hope that my work looks like the living room of somebody’s grandmother. If you get close enough, you can smell lanolin from the sheep whose fleece made the yarn.


Winnie Edgar-Booty, Taking Care, Wool yarn, cotton thread, timber, video (photo courtesy of the artist)


Winnie Edgar-Booty, Taking Care, Wool yarn, cotton thread, timber, video (photo courtesy of the artist)