Liz Rowe | BIO < back to artists

Artist statement

Landscape is a great genre to work in. It has a long and rich history within Western art, especially in painting and drawing. Everyone understands landscape because we are so familiar with it – so much so that some might suggest it has become a cliché. But that rich history provides scope for playing with the iconography and styles that we are so familiar with. Sometimes the smallest shifts, that can be easy to miss at first glance, make us think the hardest.

Landscape is a perfect vehicle for exploring ideas around place. For many of us, place underscores who we are and where we think we belong, both in a physical sense as well as in a political or social sense. We have perceived of place as grounded and therefore stable. But the stability of place is under threat from our contemporary nomadic lifestyles, the virtual world of cyberspace, and economic globalisation

This uncertain ground of place is the focus of my work. My images are of no place in particular yet are every place. Places that are overlooked; familiar but distant. The meaning resides in the gap between the familiar and the unknown. My ceramic works look at place from a closer perspective – that of the home, which acts as a metaphor for place in general. Like the landscape, our houses, and especially home ownership, are at the centre of cultural myths around security, community and belonging. The vases are all glazed in variations of the same base glaze, with only slight colour shifts and splashes of darker glaze, so that the differences between them are muted.

Technical notes

The drawings are done in charcoal, sprayed with fixative, and brushed over loosely with oil colours. While they can be framed, the surface is reasonably robust and the works do not need framing for protection.

The vases are made from mid-fire white clay. Glazes are coloured with oxides.


I was born in Southland, grew up in Auckland and went to university in Christchurch. After training as a journalist and a two-year stint on the Christchurch Press I went to London on my ‘OE’. Three years and a lot of travelling later I ended up in Wellington where I did various media and public relations jobs, including a couple of years as public affairs manager at the National Library and four years at Parliament as a ministerial press secretary.

After deciding that having a so-called career isn’t everything it is cracked up to be, I changed tack completely and moved to Dunedin in 2004 to study for a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Art. I finished in 2007, majoring in sculpture. I still live in Dunedin. It is a small city, but it has one of the liveliest and most interesting art communities in the country, not to mention much better opportunities for finding cheap studio space to rent than in some other cities. My work is now roughly divided between painting, drawing and ceramics. I also make the occasional video work for fun and dream up sculpture projects that I may get the opportunity to implement some day.


2007    Bachelor of Fine Arts, Otago Polytechnic School of Art (sculpture major)
1981   Bachelor of Arts, Canterbury University

Exhibitions (group & solo)

Aug 2009   5th Birthday Invitational, The Artist’s Room, Dunedin
Jun 2009   Home & Away, Hullabaloo Art Space, Cromwell (solo)
Apr 2009   The Dowling St Project, Dowling St studio space, Dunedin
Nov 2008   The Dowling St Project, Dowling St studio space, Dunedin
Sep 2008   Preview 2008, CoCA, Christchurch
Sep 2008   Rapt, Packing Shed Gallery, Clyde
Aug 2008   After Shock, CoCA, Christchurch (solo)
Nov 2007    Site 07, School of Art, Dunedin
Jun 2007    Cake, 386 Princes St, Dunedin
Feb 2007   A Place to Stand, Ashburton Art Gallery, Ashburton
Jul 2006    Recyclia, Dunedin Community Gallery, Dunedin
Jun 2006   Hey Sweet, The Fix, Dunedin (solo)


Dec 2006    3rd Year Drawing Prize, School of Art
July 2006   First Prize Tertiary Section (fees scholarship), Recyclia Exhibition