Local artist makes finals, again

Cara Fotofili pictured with No Fixed Abode, the watercolour that earned her a place in the finals in this year’s New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award in Hamilton Gardens.

Cambridge artist Cara Fotofili has been selected as one of 72 finalists for the prestigious 2018 Parkin Drawing Award.

The national drawing competition, which was launched by philanthropist and arts patron Chris Parkin six years ago, attracted 463 entries. The top prize is $20,000, and there are 10 highly commended prizes of $500 each.

Cara’s work, entitled Clear Air Turbulence #2, is a swirl of stippled dots done in her preferred contemporary abstract style. She now heads to Wellington for the July 16 announcement of the winners, and where her work will be showcased with that of the other finalists in a New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts exhibition, running from July 17 to August 19.

Surprised and delighted, she said: “This is a very well-known competition, but it’s not one I have entered before. I just thought I’d try it this year. It’s very flattering to find myself among the finalists.”

While Cara considers herself an artist first and foremost, for the past year she’s been fitting art around her job as a support worker for those with disabilities.  “Before that, I worked as a full-time artist for seven years, and I’ll go back to art full-time again as soon as I can.”

Some of her pieces have been shown in regional galleries, and Cara has entered work into a couple of other major art competitions this year. One was the 2018 National Contemporary Art Award at Waikato Museum, and the other the New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award in Hamilton Gardens, where she placed in the finals with a watercolour embellished with gold dust/leaf, entitled No Fixed Abode.

Cara’s work, Clear Air Turbulence #2, has won her a place in the finals in the 2018 Parkin Drawing Award.

The Dunedin-born artist inherited her creative gene from her artist dad. “He encouraged us to draw from a very early age. It’s something I kept going back to, but life interfered with my desire to follow my passion.”

Marriage to a Pacific Islander took Cara to a remote Fijian island for 15 years. She busied herself raising a family but struggled to keep up her art because of the difficulty in accessing materials. It was only when they came back to New Zealand some nine years ago that she started again.

Then, in one of the ‘spur of the moment’ decisions she says sometimes drive her, she enrolled at Wintec at age 60.  She spent five years training in media arts, completing a master’s degree.

“It was my “life begins at 60” thing,” she said. “Having been self-taught, I really wanted to see how well I could do in a formal environment. Perhaps it was a validation of sorts. Either way, I enjoyed every minute of it, and I learned heaps.”

Cara still experiments with her art, but for the moment has settled on the unusual use of dots that now feature in most of her work.

“I suppose the word ‘esoteric’ would describe the way I paint,” she said. “My work relates to the way I think about the world – I try and imagine the fundamental sort of place everything emerged from.  My paintings all have that element to them.”

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