Welcome to our latest  – Q & A with Tamaki Makaurau artist Evan Woodruffe

How long have you been a maker for? Is making part of your DNA?

I’ve been compelled to create since I was 14. I formed a band in the early 1980s, and we put out a few releases in the 90s, working with producers like DLT and Mike Hodgson – even being nominated for a Silver Scroll. In 1997, I replaced music with painting, so it’s been over 40 years of making now.

Have you always been a ……..? Do you refer to yourself as a craftsperson or maker or artist? “

Making things is my way of negotiating the world, providing a space of active contemplation where I can be authentically me. It’s what feels natural to do.

I describe myself as an artist. I’m predominantly a painter, but enjoy turning my paintings into 3D objects too. I enjoy collaborating with people who have different skill sets, to produce things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to realise.

Where do you create?

I have run Akepiro Street Studios in Kingsland since 2008, providing workspace for myself and a dozen other artists. Although we all work separately, the studios generate a collective energy that helps to maintain each person’s creative impetus.

Whose work are you currently enjoying?

It’s all about colour and texture for me at present. My partner Jeanne Clayton and I have recently bought two paintings of Te Kooti by Tawhai Rickard, fluid layered colours that stain slick polished surfaces, and a brilliantly coloured, spikey shiny ceramic by Virginia Leonard. Our recent visit to the Eden Hore collection of 1970s high fashion gowns at the Dowse gave us a dose of glittery sequins, feathers, polyester and bright colours. My summer reading has been about the similarities and differences in approaches to painting between friends Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.

Has Covid compromised your practice?

The inability to travel has been really disappointing, as it is a big part of promoting the work made on these remote motu to an overseas audience. Although exhibitions have gone ahead in China, both myself and my Chinese agents have to do our jobs by proxy, a poor alternative to meeting collectors and curators in person.

Exhibitions in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland have been similarly limited, with Artweek Auckland spluttering and TENT only happening online, though very successfully. Now Aotearoa Art Fair is also cancelled, leaving a hole in my calendar, but we have to deal with a global pandemic, so these difficulties just have to be managed.

Where can we find your work?

To face the effects of Covid, I’ve recently launched my new website www.evanwoodruffe.com which gives an excellent overview of my practice, while my Instagram @evanwoodruffe gives a “fly on the wall” eye view of work in and out of the studio.

But nothing beats standing in front of an artwork. In Aotearoa New Zealand, my NZ agent Paul Nache and I are planning something for his Tairawhiti Gisborne gallery before the middle of the year, and maybe a pop-up in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland too. I have a major exhibition booked for Hastings City Art Gallery early next year, which I’m now working on. Internationally, I have work in Art Beijing (April) and Beijing City Art Fair (July), and hopefully can travel to shows we’re planning for Beijing and Tokyo in 2023.


All artworks copyright the artist and Paul Nache gallery