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Grey-wearing Māori goth

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Sarah Hudson is a full time artist and an even fuller-time mum in Whakatāne. She talks about inter-generational connections, deadlines, and yell-singing.

What research do you do? I’ve learnt quite a lot of technical things from You Tube tutorials played at x1.5 speed. I like to talk with people, openly and face to face. Looking at art and artefacts is something that I really enjoy.

I love a good reference book with some nice technical line drawings. I’m online quite a bit reading and keeping in touch.

What’s the last show that surprised you and why? Earlier this year, Te Kōputu a te Whanga a Toi in Whakatāne exhibited Sue Pearson and Jean Clarkson’s Kei III: Awa Side (our place). It celebrated ten years of collaborative art making as the Ahu Sisters, and highlighted Pitcairn tapa making practices. The artists also dove deep into matters of sovereignty and female knowledge systems. They grew their own bark cloth and thanked their daughters. It was a beautiful homage to intergenerational connections.

How do you organise, plan, and prioritise your work? A never-ending battle of the closest deadline wins? I am a massive procrastinator. Thankfully with my current heavy workload juggle, this has mostly meant putting off one thing by doing another just-as-pertinent thing.

In the last CNZ quick response grant round, I did catch myself unsubscribing to the spam in the junk folder of my emails, rather than knuckling down and sorting out my budget. But that was quite an extreme case, and at least I was still on my computer and had not decided to go and mow the lawns. But my dream way to operate is to the thing straight away, and then it’s gone out of my life.

What does a typical day look like? I’m a night-time list maker and an early morning admin person which doesn’t always lead to the most restful night sleep. I’m usually straight out of bed, onto the computer, emailing, or writing proposals or editing projects. Mid-morning I like to get outside, sometimes that’s heading to Ōhiwa Harbour, sometimes it’s hanging out the washing. Afternoons and early evenings are downtime with my kid.

Today, we’re clearing under the feijoa tree, I’ll pick up my niece from day care in the afternoon and to ride bikes, jump on the tramp and try to avoid games that end in scrapping 3-year-olds. Dinner’s at 5pm, kids are asleep by 7, then I’m back to work making art until I stop. Somewhere in there I maintain a relationship and a few friendships too, but I do feel like I have a very full plate right now.

How does your work comment on current social or political issues? Art making is serious; art work is laborious and art platforms can offer art audiences a time and space to reflect issues affecting them and their community. I have a work that is showing as a part of Māori Moving Image that opens soon at The Dowse which documents residents of the small Eastern Bay of Plenty town of Ōpōtiki.

In 2015, the District Council in Ōpōtiki established blanket approval for the recreational use of drones on council land, reserves and roads. This project worked alongside residents to discuss privacy and explore agency in the wake of the council’s decision. Since the Ōpōtiki part of the project has finished, I’ve been able to run workshops in Melbourne, Whakatāne High School, Taneatua and soon to be one in Wellington in June that let’s participants create their own surveillance disguises and ponder their own autonomy in an age where our images are constantly being captured.

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car? I travel a bit for art work which means driving to Rotorua to fly places. That time when I’m alone in the car, yell-singing to Channel Orange for the 900th time, is something I really look forward to. I get a bit into Druidry, particularly their ideas around the magic of creating art and states of flow. In the one-hour drive to and from Whakatāne and Rotorua, I’ve had some really great art epiphanies and ideas by getting into the flow of things.

Money is no object. Which priceless artwork do you buy? I’d like to travel and spend time with all of the amazingly talented tattoo artists I follow on Instagram. Terje Koloamatangi at Small Axe Studio in Onehunga, Indyvoet in Brussels, Maic L’Abbate in London, Jeremy Micel Cadogan in Banff, Jemma Pariente in San Diego… SO many more. The internet can be ruthless in terms of plagiarism for tattoo artists, but I think Instagram is an amazing tool to build a client base and a fan base, and really stamp your personal style on the industry.

What were you like when you were 15? Underappreciating my parent’s love and support. Trying really hard to be a Māori goth but wearing all black in Whakatāne just meant people sincerely asked you which tangi you had just come from. I ended up wearing heaps of grey as a teenager to consolidate these earnest misunderstandings. 15-year-old me was listening to a lot of American rock bands, riding in cars with other idiot teenagers, and generally doing things that make me petrified to have a teenaged kid in nine years.


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