Pre-sales of We Don’t Have to Be The Building publications

Essays, feminism, Poetry, process, Queer, Uncategorized, Writing

‘We Don’t Have to Be the Building’ (2016) researched diverse community stories about sexuality and activism, resulting in assemblage art and writing in the lightboxes on Courtenay Place, Wellington.

I’m now creating a beautiful publication that you can own and put on your wall, and keep to remember, or get to know the project. It will consist of:

8 A3 posters, of all 16 panels of the final work, printed on 150gsm paper

30 pages of process writing, images of the process, action sheets and reflections on making the project

A commissioned essay

All beautifully presented in a box for you to keep together, or choose your favourites to put on your wall.

If you’d like to go on the list to pre-purchase one, please let me know. They are $40 each as pre-sales and will likely cost a bit more after that, so grab one now!

Courtenay Place Light Boxes Sian Torrington We don’t have to be the building


Busting Belly in Parkin Drawing Award

Drawing, Drawings, feminism, Femme, Queer, shows, Uncategorized

This drawing was selected for the 2017 Parkin Drawing award, and is currently being exhibited at The Academy of Fine Arts on Wellington waterfront. All the finalists are here:

Busting belly 1800mm x 1200mm


Body, Essays, process, Uncategorized, Writing


Why we do a thing. What we mean to do. The reasons that unfold as we do it.

Intention is not always clear to an artist. Sometimes it is more of an energy, a will to discover, create or express. Other times it’s like an itch, or irritation that drives a form of exploration you really don’t want to make. But you make it, because it says you should.

Sometimes, intention unfolds itself as you are going along – ah, that is what I meant. For me the materials themselves have their own intentions, as do the finished works. Like children, they don’t belong to me once they have left the scope of my body or making. Mybe they never did, but once they are out in the world, they have to stand on their own two feet.

There’s that saying; the road to hell is paved with good intentions. What we thought we were doing, but then what we actually did, and the effect of that. Intention is often an excuse used by those who cause harm to others; ‘Oh but that wasn’t my intention.’ So intention becomes slippery. Intention has to be responsive, and responsible.

I have thought of what I am doing lately as making a series of offers. Offers that you can accept or refuse, but made with an open hand, and ready to hear whatever response is made. My intention is to find things out, and see what creative practice and art can actually do in the world. Make itself useful!

Thinking about intention has made me realise that my main intention has always been to trust the process. I don’t quite see the point of doing something if you already know what will happen, or what you want to happen. Trust for me is a process of yielding; to accident, happenstance, other people, magic. Trust is also a revolutionary process: To trust in our own instincts, bodies and desires; witches got burned for that. And it’s still a thing, isn’t it. There is a mind and body bending amount of telling, everywhere we look and listen, even when we don’t want to, about how your body should be, look, behave, feel, respond. And what is the intention of that? It’s always felt like control to me.

So what happens when the body is not controlled? When it is allowed to be, and find out, and explore, and play? What happens when the materials it uses are allowed to do the same? My intention has been to find out. And I’ve been told off all the way through. When I was studying, trying to find ways to write about a process that I was living; questioning and rejecting the possibility and value of being able to be ‘objective’, I was told, come on, you’re a clever girl, can’t you just ‘write a straight version?’

This is not a straight version.


Expressive portrait commissions


I’ve decided to offer up a new opportunity: Commission me to make an expressive portrait of and with you.

I made a series of these during my recent project We Don’t Have to Be The Building;

And would love to make more….

The magic of these is that they are active depictions of you. They are how you look, but also how you feel. They are like a collage on one sheet of paper, with you choosing the poses, moving and grooving, and me capturing some of that individual energy on paper.

People I have drawn before said other people came through too; a beloved grandma creating a warm shadow, or a younger self, still present today.

Making the drawing is an intimate and special process. I draw you at my studio, and you can give me feedback part way through on what is missing, or what you’d like me to add. I can also draw from photographs to layer up other people, places or objects.

I make drawings with charcoal, pencil, graphite and pastels. They can be black and white, or have colours added. The process is full of risk and excitement, and presence. It’s a live adventure to see what will come through, and a really creative process we can enjoy together.


How much will this cost me?

I’ve decided to charge for these drawings on an hourly basis. Which means that you will:

  • Get a much cheaper drawing than you usually would!
  • Be in control of how much it costs because we decide together how many layers and therefore how much time it will take.

We can also negotiate size and price so that it’s something you are comfortable with at the beginning. I also do some forms of exchange for things I need on occasion, so get in touch and we can discuss options.

A drawing like the ones pictured will involve a two hour sitting, or me working from photos, and will cost a total of $450.00


When can I book in for a session?

As soon as you like! We will work out a time that suits us both, and book you in.

My studio is in central Wellington, and has some wheelchair accessibility with a lift, but it has a step and heavy door on the ground floor so some assistance would be necessary, which I can provide.

Contact me on

Interviews from Intimacy stages / Active Empathy, Auckland

Drawing, Essays, Gender, installation, Poetry, Queer, Uncategorized, Writing


I did two interviews; one with Artists Alliance, one with Phantom Billstickers, about this project. Read more here:

Interview | Sian Torrington

We Don’t Have to Be The Building at Silo 7 Auckland

Drawing, Drawings, feminism, Gender, Poetry, shows

With the help of GABA, Phantom Billstickers, Artist Alliance and Auckland City Council, we took all 16 works to Auckland as large scale posters that were installed in Silo 7 on the waterfront. It was an amazing experience to simply send a file to be printed rather than the usual carrying masses of drawings, sculptures and materials with me to install. Now I am wondering where else we could go……. here are some images.


Intimacy Stages / Active Empathy


Intimacy Stages / Active Empathy – a show of feminist, gender queer embodied drawings, sculptures and drawing sessions. Studio One – Toi Tu, at 1 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland, open 11am-7pm for three days, 23, 24th, 25th Feb, 2017.

Tonight Weds 22nd Feb we opened this show of drawings and sculptures at Studio One Toi Tu at 1 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland. It is a collection: drawings from We Don’t Have to Be The Building, from Self-Portrait, and also new works. When I started collecting the works to bring, some of of them said I’m not ready. So we spent more time together, layering our bellies, finding our knots. We rubbed and added and tore and lay together. All of the self-portraits of all of the beings, here now.

For the next three days I will be drawing 14 people who will sit with me, move, breathe, be. I’ll draw whatever they offer me, and however they are. It is another form of intimacy through this drawing and creative process. It is an honour.

When you do not see your body, desire or sexuality represented, it is imperative that you represent it yourself, and as honestly and in as much of its complexity as you possibly can. This show at Auckland’s Studio One brings together individual reflection and collaborative making in a mass of drawings, experiments and trials. Acknowledging the complexity of our genders in queer, feminist and gender queer bodies.

Resisting censorship and taking risks, because intimacy involves so much risk; the pressure; the invitation to strangers; the trust; the vulnerability; the offer; the hope are on offer.

Farm recovery


For the last month, my partner and I have been farm sitting. We saw the request on a gay list, and it sounded like the most ideal post project recovery I could imagine. One labradoodle, three cats, two guinea pigs, a kune kune pig named Marmelade, and a great a wonderful number of chickens and ducks. It’s been magic. We are moving into spring, and as we have moved, so the blossom have opened, releasing gorgeous scent, the lambs have been springing, and the calves are everywhere. There has been rain, and mud, and a pig very happy in it. We found tadpoles, conjured an eel, and I sat with my back against an olive tree watching chickens happily wriggle in a dust bath. That twenty minutes felt like the first time in my life I had made a conscious decision to just sit and do absolutely nothing. While I was there, all of life was happening around me. Kereru crashed fatly and happily into one another on fragile branches. Chickens clucked and pecked, and then one came rushing madly squawking across the paddock. I have no idea what was up, but I felt simply part of it, and it was incredibly relaxing.

I’m trying to learn about doing less. My acupuncturist calls it Yin energy, and my meditation teacher calls it awareness. He says it’s that which has always been there, and is never gonna get anywhere, because there’s nowhere to get to, just here to be. I think of it as trust that all will be well, regardless of my panicky efforts to make it so. Simply to yield. Usually I can’t ever remember that word, and this week I linked it to ‘yes’. Yes to yielding.

As an artist, I am always planning, writing proposals, thinking about how the work could be shown in the world. Which is all good work, and necessary. But I want less fear in my life. I want to believe that there will be the right places for showing it, and that they will arise naturally and plentifully. Fear is not good for making art, and not good for just enjoying life either.

So after the chicken hang out, I decided to go hang out in a temporary outside studio, with a herd of cows. We’d been there the week before, but I didn’t have my sketchbook. This time I took a box of pencils and charcoal, a hat, and two dogs. I made my way to the perfect tree stump I’d seen last time, and settled there. The dogs cruised around, sometimes yipping at the cows, but we settled in. I’ve never drawn cows before, and like any new form, it takes a while to move out of the imagined, simplistic short cuts, and into what you can really see. In my drawing classes I often say drawing is two thirds looking, one third drawing. But it’s also about presence. Really paying attention to what is there, and not getting stuck in what your mind thinks is there. It’s about the unknown, and lived reality being eternally new in every unexpected moment.

There was nothing I had to offer them, and nothing I wanted from them. They came closer, breathing and looking. The feeling was of simply being there, of being with other living beings. Creek would call them gentle beasts.

The most encouraging thing I have ever seen to keep on being an artist is the film Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which documents cave paintings from 30,000 years ago. I remember watching it and having to figure out how long that is. It’s a really long time ago. And we were making drawings like this; of the animals around us, their simple and complicated forms and movement. We have always done this, and it is part of being human. When I get tangled up in art world fear and concerns about what I am doing, this is one of the things I try to remember. Drawing the cows brought me to a realisation I haven’t quite had before; that maybe this is the point of drawing, and maybe it’s enough. To be quiet, and pay attention, and be present with what is right now. I’m gonna try to remember it.



Here is where I put my audio


Here is my new SoundCloud account that feels very exciting! I’ve been doing quite a bit of talking about We Don’t Have to Be the Building, and so it was time to start collating the audio and putting it in one place. Also I have been doing more and more performance over the last couple of years, and I want to have one place to put recordings of that too. Look out for more glitter bang assemblage poetry, performance, talks and thoughts soon!