Cathy Carter

Cathy Carter

Cathy Carter graduated from AUT University with holds a Master of Arts in 2013 and has been a regular finalist in a number of leading art awards including: the Parkin Drawing Prize, Molly Morpeth Canaday, Sydney HeadOn Portrait Prize, Wallace Art Awards and the Walker and Hall Prize. Carter’s work. Cathy’s work has received serious critical attention in recent years: in 2021, a survey exhibition of her work “ Weird Fishes” was shown at the Art House Trust in Auckland. and in 2023 Linda Tyler wrote a 10 year retrospective essay on Cathy for in the Winter edition of Art New Zealand. Carter’s work held in a number of distinguished public, private and corporate collections including recent acquisitions by the Parliamentary Collection (in Wellington), New Zealand, the Duolun Museum of Modern Art (China) and the Wallace Art Trust (Auckland).

Fluid Alchemy

‘We sweat and cry salt water so we know that the ocean is really in our blood”
Teresa Teaiwa

Alchemy: the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary sometimes in a way that cannot be explained. Chemistry’s medieval forerunner explored the transmutation of metals to create an elixir that prolongs life, and thus transmutation of human lives into happier and perfect states.

In ‘Fluid Alchemy’, inspired by the historical pursuit of transmutation, where base substances – were sought to be transformed into precious elements – Carter explores the transformative power of found materials, as well as the transformation of photographic images. Shooting, assembling, layering and manipulating photographic images, her highly constructed sea scapes offer an imaginative alchemy. Repetition of subjects and multiple perspectives play with perceptions of time and space, as well as historical and cultural assumptions about reality and its depiction in the photographic image.

Plastic waste collected from beaches on the Waitematā Harbour has been transformed into functional and decorative objects. Through a collaboration with Simone Muxlow, the reimagined pieces collected have been transformed using recycled chains into wearable art. Each piece bears the name of a Nereid. These are mythical sea nymphs of saltwater, daughters of the sea god Nereus and Doris, who in addition to their beauty were said to possess the gift of prophecy. Each piece bears the imprint of its journey: collection at the high tide mark, the collaborative efforts of time, wind, water, and fire; and before that the object’s life as a part of our consumer late capitalist society before being discarded.

Likewise  fallen, discarded palm seed pods collected from the streets of Tāmaki Makaurau have been dried and painted – repurposed into sculptural forms, suggestive of waka. Fluid Alchemy invites viewers to witness the processes of refinement, purification and transmutation of both matter and mind, provoking contemplation on our relationship to waste and to the environment, in particular our oceans. Through the details and reconfiguring of the ‘overlooked’ we can rediscover creativity and the care of these precious environments.


Contact the gallery for a complete list of works