What I do
Fiona Clark is one of New Zealand’s best known art photographers.
She works in a social documentary style. Her work was included in The Active Eye exhibition in the mid 1970’s. This was New Zealand’s first major survey of photography. The inclusion of two of her prints of transvestites brought such controversy to the show that it was forced to close at several venues including Auckland.
Since then she has continued to work at the cutting edge of documentary, art photography. She exhibited a series of work on bodybuilding when public opinion was still struggling to accept this as a viable sport.
Fiona has always been able to sift through the layers of the ordinary to expose the extraordinary in whatever community she has lived in. This happened in her town of Waitara Taranaki when her work was included by local Maori in the first ever land claim through the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal. Local Maori used her images to show the magnificence of the area and its value as natural heritage conservation sites.
Fiona recorded the impact of living with HIV, AIDS when she documented the lives of three HIV positive men and one woman. This was in the 1980’s before good understanding of the disease and way before life prolonging drugs were developed. All subjects have since died but these diaries leave behind a haunting, beautiful and tragic legacy.
Fiona’s work has been published widely and she has traveled overseas on arts council grants. Her works are held in most major public collections in New Zealand. She continues to be one of the best artists in the Taranaki region and one of the most important photographers in the country.
In May of 1997 she was awarded a major arts development grant from Creative New Zealand to undertake new work for the next two years. The other Half draws from Fiona’s medical records – her “Medical My Story”
In 2002 Go Girl opened at the Govett Brewster Gallery. Go Girl is the culmination of thirty years work. Fiona Clark has worked on the project intensely over the past five years. Go Girl had it’s beginnings in the Active Eye exhibition with photographs from the Dance Party Series. The work is now seen in its entirety with a contemporary update. Also in the show are piercing video interviews with surviving subjects from the Dance Party Series. They are raw testimonials of hard-lived lives. Sometimes they are a celebration and sometimes the now calm reminisces tell how friends died and fell off into a world of brutality and drug drenched death.
A comprehensive catalogue accompanies Go Girl. This is a quality publication produced by the Govett Brewster Art Gallery. Included are three text pieces. A critical essay by Blair French, a revealing and in depth interview with Fiona Clark and thirdly a moving and beautifully composed piece by David Lyndon Brown.