Photographer from Taranaki to take up US artist residency on houseboat

Tikorangi resident Fiona Clark with a portrait she took of 'Peter' in 1988, who was a sufferer of the HIV/AIDS virus. ...

Tikorangi resident Fiona Clark with a portrait she took of 'Peter' in 1988, who was a sufferer of the HIV/AIDS virus. She photographed a number of people in the 80s with the illness.

A New Zealand photographer is prepping her sea legs for a two month artist residency on a US houseboat.

Fiona Clark of Tikorangi in North Taranaki is packing a bag with sea-sick pills just in case the Varda Artists Residency (VAR) in California isn't smooth sailing.

"I'm hoping the harbour will be calm," she said. "It will be an interesting environment, that's for sure."

Clark will fly to the United States on Thursday for a two month residency aboard the 136-year-old renovated houseboat that has hosted such artists as Allen Ginsberg and Ruth Asawa.

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Clark's work focuses on biographical elements, photographing and documenting individuals, communities and spaces. 

"People fascinate me. Every day life is inspiring and I am inspired by being alive."

She said the establishment of committed relationships was central to her practice as it helped her to portray the complexities of humankind.

This would be Clark's first artist residency and she said she couldn't wait to make new connections with different walks of life. There was a possibility Clark would also visit Vancouver and Bolivia during the residency.

Clark credits a 2015 exhibition she held in Auckland of her work documenting the lives of four people living with Aids between 1986 and 1988, for getting her the recognition that led to the residency. 

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"I have a high profile in the city," she said.

"Taranaki doesn't have the amount of galleries, so I had to make a name for myself elsewhere."

​The artist residency programme will provide accommodation and workspace on a stationary 136-year-old former ferry, located in the San Francisco Bay area.

"You have to be chosen for this residency and when they confirmed they picked me, I was so pleased," she said.

"This is a big deal for me. I'm very much looking forward to it."

 - Stuff

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