What happened in 2017…

Drawing, Drawings, feminism, installation, Poetry, process, Queer, shows, Studio, Uncategorized, Writing

It is the last day of 2017 here in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and as usual, I am taking some time to reflect on this year. Usually I do this with pen and paper, but this year I thought I’d share it with you here.

It’s been a year of big change, with some serious illness (five bouts of flu) meaning a lot of time spent at home, thinking and developing new ways of working that aren’t quite so draining energetically. A lot of that has been drawing energy that I’ve been expending far outside of myself, back in; a process of gathering everything closer.

Body is a mighty teacher, and this year she has shown me that the support and appreciation I need will come through continuing to build a practice that brings people together in various ways through expressive art making. At the beginning of the year I spent a week inviting people to come and be drawn on one long 10 metre piece of paper at Toi Tu in Auckland. Conversations, relationships, connections…

This work was part of an exhibition that showed a range of works that I’ve been developing around intimacy, starting with drawing myself, then developing systems to support fully informed consent around other drawing other peoples’ stories and images. How to ask properly, respect and honour the gift of people letting you look, listen and be together.

AAA Intimacy Stages Active Empathy at Studio One Auckland

My next project was to ritually let go of my role as a contract lecturer at Massey School of Fine Arts, where I have been for the last 7 years teaching drawing, sculpture and making processes. I wanted to honour the relationships I have valued, as well as give a significant gift to the students, particularly those grappling with issues around gender identity, cultural identity, and sexualities. The show ‘Te Aho Mano / A Thousand Strands, showed work from my Asia New Zealand residency in Bengaluru, India, as well as new work and collaborations with Anahera Gildea and Leilani A L’iga Pua. You can hear those here:

and here: https://soundcloud.com/siantorrington/final-chapter

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Anahera and I ran workshops where students and staff were invited to discuss what they are working on, what helps them to say what they need, and what holds them back. These conversations mainly focused on feminism and how we can stick together, as well as new models for critique.


Full disclosure and acknowledgement has been a theme for me for some time, and in the show I included my book collection of inspirational and foundational writers for me. I was delighted that the books were re-ordered every time I cam into the show, telling me that people were using the comfy seats and having a read.


I was determined to honour and finish We Don’t Have to Be The Building in 2017, which I did by taking the works to Auckland as posters with the help of Pride and Phantom Billstickers.

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With the support of many of you pre-purchasing copies, I also made a publication about the project, including colour posters of the final work, lots of reflection on the process, and an essay by Ellie-Lee Duncan. Thank-you to everyone who made this possible, including Creative Communities funding and The Armstrong and Arthur Charitable Trust for Lesbians.

The publication was launched in November at the HELP fundraising exhibition, where I also spoke and showed works in support of the cause of supporting survivors of sexual violence. As part of the week I ran a drawing workshop upstairs at Thistle Hall where we used drawing to express some of our feelings and responses to the #metoo campaign.

HELP opening

As part of my work revolution, I’ve brought my teaching practice closer to my art practice, and begun teaching my own workshops. I was delighted to be funded by Toi Poneke to trial a six week Queer and Trans* drawing class, building community and creativity together.

The success of this told me to keep going, and two more rounds have been supported by Rainbow Wellington, one still to come in 2018!

I’ve also been teaching at Gordon Harris my Expressive Drawing class, which I will run again in 2018, along with Life drawing at Toi Poneke, and Where do you get your ideas from? Excuse the glare, all the drawings were proudly hung in the front window of the shop!

Want to learn to draw_

Some drawings found their homes with buyers, including these ones:

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And some others featured in art awards around the country, including the Parkin Drawing Award;

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So that’s some highlights! In 2018 I am looking forward to more teaching, developing new collaborative workshops and relationships. I will be working on some commissions, some exciting shows, and ways to keep sharing my practice. Happy new year, may it bring you everything you need.





feminism, Femme, Gender, Queer, Sculptures, shows, Uncategorized

I’m putting together some thoughts and works for a show to fundraise for Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP, working with survivors of sexual abuse and their whanau.

I’m writing labels, and thinking / feeling through these works:

All of my Club works were made in response to the violence and abuse that we experience on the street and in public places. As women, queer and trans* communities, non-binary people, who are targeted


with judgements, assumptions and worse. When I was stopped on the street by a group of men and verbally abused, I began to wonder what a queer, revolutionary response or defense would look like. I imagined my friends, lovers and communities appearing in drag, as punks, activists, femmes, heros, in glittery heels and shabby glory. These clubs were what I imagined we might carry; to resist these forces of fear and shame with pride, colour and surety in our own being and collective existence.

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


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.