Things repeat, in good ways

Essays, installation, Poetry, process, Sculptures, shows, Studio, Uncategorized, Writing

I’m in the process of making my second publication about a project. Both of them have been to do with buildings, and process, and how to create and hold things together. The first, a physical building, the second, the building we make together by how we stick together. The structures that we form through solidarity, love and connection.

Both are using the same method; assemblage, complex, sticky and with each piece related actively. You can read one way, and then the other. This is the best way I can make sense.

I found this piece of writing and images from the first one; Inhabitance, so here they are… if you’d like to pre-purchase a copy of the second one, about We Don’t Have to Be The Building, contact me on

Meeting points of nature and human maintenance in buildings and the built environment. I walk around to see what I find in the neighbourhood. Gutters are rich with trees, drips have made drawings down the side of buildings, and posters have made a mummy of a house. There is a bin which has been papered to make it look weatherboarded. Drawings are everywhere.


I found the information about this place in the archives. It was owned by a woman and she wanted all of the best materials used. The best concrete, rimu and roofing. Now there are holes everywhere made by borer and when I bang a nail into the wall dust falls and falls. Without maintenance there is accretion. This is a scene where human action plays against inaction; because nothing has been done these patterns of mould and falling paper pile up. And my drawing repeats them, extends them, makes them clearer.

Someone broke the window in a shop next door. I looked in and saw that there were flags in there. I hadn’t noticed them before. Is this what I would do if I broke in? Is this what I am doing in here? Leaving a mark, leaving many marks. Leaving a sign of inhabitance and noticing what was found here.


The tap drips. The bath is accumulated with water which has stained it brown. So what would I accumulate here? There is colour which drips also and builds up. The glitter in the bath, and the pastel which is imitating the spread of mould on the walls. There is a kind of communication here.

Things hold on, and things hold in. Lines are travelling through this space becoming tight and slack, falling into puddles or holding doors closed. Paper, wool and wood all serve the same purpose,

a structure within a structure which is holding its own




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

weaving in, weaving out

Drawing, Essays, feminism, India, installation, Sculptures

Weaving in, weaving out, is about femininity, expression, colour, difficulty and the skills we have learnt to create homes and spaces for ourselves.
Being on a residency means having to build a temporary home in a new country. This home is made from local materials and influenced by vernacular structures. I think of architecture as how we arrange the spaces around us, including the small spaces. In India I have been fascinated by how things are arranged; the sweets hanging outside a shop, the bamboo scaffolds; bundles of flowers discarded at the end of the day.
I want to make things which have a sense of being alive, growing, exuberance, and reveal their own fragility and the difficulty of growing. We live in bodies which get broken, and I want my sculptures to be like that. Vulnerable and yet brave, scaffold, on crutches and yet still moving.

There are so many hand skills here; everyday, useful items, made by hand. Everything is arranged beautifully. The skills needed to make them take time to learn, and then become part of the body; as natural and unthinking as walking. I became interested in skills because I know they are part of a community, a culture, that we learn and do things together. Also, skills became part of how I could acknowledge my whiteness in this culture. Rather than repeat and exploit a white history of taking from a country, I wanted to see if I could transform it a little, by being humble enough to try and learn, deliberately doing things which are new to me; to make myself vulnerable.

I am very grateful to Mona for teaching me how to tie flowers, and also a new stitch; forms of structure that I have used throughout this project. Learning the flower tying gave me a metaphor for the project; weaving. At the beginning of a residency, there are no connections. As time passes, some threads become connected. With people and places, new routines begin to create form. Like making a nest; a bird choosing available materials to wedge itself into the local environment. Some threads are temporary, or need replacing. Strengthening is required, re weaving in and adding new elements. All are part of the whole.

I’d like to talk about femininity and femaleness. I have been struck by the gender difference in public space compared to what I am used to. The street seems very male to me; places where men drink tea, eat food and congregate. I wondered where my space could be, where I could express myself, and so I have made it. I have heard stories of Rangoli, and connections between femininity and nature here. I think of nature as wild, much stronger than we think, and disregarding of human control. I wanted to build this structure which spilled out onto the street, in the same way that a tree does. Putting aside the rules, boundaries and acceptable ways to take up space, trees just grow wherever they can find a foothold. This is how I made my work, and how I made connections with women here. I trawled face book groups, went to workshops, said yes to every offer of help, and slowly wove myself in to feeling like I had some threads connecting me. Rani pink threads. Through conversations, gifts of fabric pieces, and working together, I have created this show from fragments of stories in which I both learn, and recognise myself.
I am very grateful to everyone who has made this project possible. The women who have come and shared stories, time and energy with me building and installing the show; Mona, Priyanka, Varsha, Bhavani, Bindu, and Vidhna for the gift of fabric. Also to Asia New Zealand for funding this residency, and Shanthi Rd, Suresh and Sandeep for hosting me here. Particular thanks to Suresh for his wonderful knowledge of this city and materials shopping in the heat! Thank you to Shiva for your help, and constant encouragement and energy! Finally thank you to everyone who befriended me here. Being an artist on residency means I am here temporarily, and I am very grateful for warm welcomes, friendship, and delivery of food and drink while I couldn’t walk!

Title list

Immersion Acrylic paint, pigment, pastel, charcoal on hand made paper
Heap Fabric, coconut husks
Gutter flower Paper, paint, wool
Absorption Acrylic paint, pigment, pastel, charcoal on hand made paper
Gentle holding shape Onion sack, wool, net, fabric, rope, bamboo
Tied back to shelter Onion sack, wool, net, fabric, rope, bamboo
Two more female bodies (1) Pastel, pencil, graphite, charcoal on Fabriano paper
Two more female bodies (2) Pastel, pencil, graphite, charcoal on Fabriano paper
Ropes (1) Pencil, graphite, charcoal on Fabriano paper
Ropes (2) Pencil, graphite, charcoal on Fabriano paper
Flop and slump Onion sack, wool, net, fabric, rope, bamboo, paper, paint
Weaving in, weaving out (Installation) Fabric, hand made paper, streamers, glue, ribbons, bamboo, coconut rope, fabric, banana leaves, coconut palm leaves, paint, tinsel


The boat floats 2014


My work is always across media, working ideas through drawing, collage, sculpture, installation and writing. In a practice which is so deeply rooted in process, often questions get asked about planning; How do you plan your work? This show attempts to address that question, in showing the interwoven nature of the drawings, sculptures, collages and an installation piece. There are photos from years ago; small plans or models which reflect forms now realised. There are the remnants of previous installations, materials kept and reused;
I think of the installations as expanded, with lots of space in them. The materials are spread out, finding form in relation to existing buildings or structures. When they are dismantled, they return to the studio and are reworked, compressed into new forms. The sculptures become their final resting place, contained the energy and patina of where they have been previously used.
This show also explored the metaphor of the boat as a means of protection and survival. Often I am asked how life is as an artist, and I always reply “The boat floats”. It has holes, it is battered by storms, and yet it bravely raises a tattered sail and floats, strangely in it’s own self sufficient glory.

It has a dark anchor with a pinking balloon
It drifts determinedly through your painted blue
mass twirling flirtatiously like I have to,
towards cut out pencil marks pouring up and outwards.
It is made of pieces of all of you. Some so long ago I don’t know where to look.
Goat horns will have to do, I think, and a string or two.
Trawling finding the glints among seeming
Absolute rubbish.
It is fragile and strong,
All made up.

an occupation of site which tightens but this is a badly expanding point
this is a body boat I have, I have although I cleaned, ceiled, coaled,
falling with appliances which talk
we build factories
gold ones, rough ones, made from the sea we are we are
trying to make seaweed
I had a hand, you had a cave
I don’t know what you mean
I don’t know what you mean
I want the lot
The shoulders, the dog, the sand, the bust we are broke we are rumbles he says wow then how do you climb and we reply yes, a club, yes, a blanket and still, there is no protection but we talk, we tell, if it was yours I would keep it, keep it , keep it safe

email Whole show 2 email whole show email Battering ram 450x 300 x 250mm approx email Boards 500 x 200 x 80mm approx email Boom bowsprit 200 x 150 x 100mm approx email Brace 250 x 150 x 100 mm approx email Drip 200x100x100mm approx email Drip and Anchor hitch and Boom Bowsprit email Hold 300 x 150 x 100mm approx email Jackstaff 200 x 100 x 150mm approx email Lump 400 x 250 x 200mm approx email Oh glory you 350 x 200 x 100mm approx email Rope 600 x 150 x 100mm approx email Sag 500 x 250 x 200mm approx email Sunk 400 x 200 x 200mm approx email Wall of small pieces email We are losing our tether 450 x 350 x 150 mm approx Boat install 1 Boat install 2 Boat install 3 Boat install 4 Boat install 5 Boat install 6 Boar 4 2 Boat 3 (2)
Just here, we are quiet, the machine was dark, and made for pavements
shot me something, feed her guts so small in a palm I can’t keep up
There is a certain frequency
This may be inside you
The world, is the one which does not make its list
Yes. No. Maybe.