Here in Aotearoa we are blessed to have an abundance of stunning natural beauty around us to inspire creative works and fire the coals of our imagination. This connection to our whenua is more than simply sightseeing or exploring to artist Fiona Newton, this began and still forms the base for much of her work today, including an approach of kaitiaki – guardianship of the land. This includes utilising discarded items she finds along the way.
I began gathering off the coastline, finding marine waste, sea glass, sea stones and sandblasted crockery on old tile and brick, my concern was respecting the beautiful coastline (keeping it) free of rubbish. A lot of it comes from boats and people throwing waste off the cliffs, ‘she says.
‘I’m very visual and notice the beauty in most simple things especially nature and our incredible Aotearoa. We have fantastic coastlines, rivers, mountains, and native bush. We are the lucky country! I see myself as an environmental artist. I work with found objects in nature in my garden art and found objects in my sculptural work, recycling and sustainable art.
I began mosaicking on concrete, making garden art.’
This connection to the land runs deeper than just the ability to create, it is literally in who she is and her family line – her whakapapa and learnings from an early age sowed a seed of looking after our environment.
‘We have a Maori bloodline; Ngati Porou, amongst others through my father’s side. He was very respectful of nature, loved gathering interesting things and exploring onnected to the whenua (our lands) and oceans. I see ingrained in me so much of my father.’