Karin follows her heart

Karin Strachan, in her final year of study at Whanganui UCOL’s Quay School of the Arts has been awarded the inaugural pattillo scholarship at a function in Wanganui.

While still overwhelmed her sculpture Salt of the Earth-ordinary person of good character took the honours, she says it has given her a timely boost.

"It has been really amazing in terms of just strengthening my resolve to continue making art."

It's taken a long time for Karin to finally follow her heart and give in to her passion for art.

"Art has always been a passion. I did it at high school and I wanted to continue but, I struggled with the dilemma of how to be financially independent with the type of art I make."

"I’ve never made pretty art – people often don’t get what I do."

"So I struggled when I was younger and I couldn’t deal with putting myself out there. Doing the fine arts degree has given me confidence and an artistic maturity to make work that is true to me. Winning this scholarship is the icing on the cake!"

Karin originally trained as a social worker and upon moving to Wanganui with her partner 13 years ago she worked in mental health.

It took her six years to make the mental shift to allow herself to indulge in art again and she took the plunge by studying part-time at Quay School of the Arts when her now 10 and 12-year-old boys were younger.

As part of her scholarship win Karin has been given $7500 to support further learning and a commemoratory medal crafted by nationally-recognised jewellery artist Frances Stachl.

She plans to use the scholarship money to transform an old garage that overlooks the river on her property into a studio.

“Getting that scholarship in the fourth year is just such an amazing thing. It’s receiving money at the time when you’re thinking how you are going to continue?”

“It’s really given me that resolve to go for it which has been awesome, so having a place to do it is the first step.”

Karin says her scholarship piece, Salt of the Earth, alludes to the common milk bottle, a New Zealand icon.

Chaos suggests disorder and she has taken relatively formless materials and combined them into an ordered and “ordinary” form. She used cement, rock salt, sand and water.

“My final year involved making a body of work which explored connections between notions of home and New Zealand slang titles. The milk bottles were made as part of this body of work, and I used natural materials as this was required for the pattillo brief.

“The slang title Salt of the Earth was chosen as I wanted something that was iconic yet ordinary. Something which questioned what we take for granted in our beliefs about objects and ideas.”

Karin says all of her work is ideas based.

“I deliberately wrote my research on what I wanted to use as a body of work and I think that’s probably the way I will continue to work. Some people ‘make’ and their work evolves out of making things. My work evolves out of having an idea and really working the idea until it and the aesthetics can work together.”

November proved a successful month for Karin – not only did she earn the pattillo scholarship, she also received the award for overall excellence from Whanganui UCOL’s Quay School of the Arts.