Paolo Freire’s concept of transformative action (from his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970) suggests that action, reflection, learning and dialogue together with others (kanohi ki te kanohi) develops a critical consciousness capable of understanding structures of power and recognising social and political contradictions. 

This diagram by Graham Hingangaroa Smith re-imagines this concept as non-linear, where all components occur simultaneously and continuously over time. It has been copied from the original source by the artist’s son Louie (b. 2013), in exchange for $20 worth of Pokémon trading cards from TradeMe. 



Artspace NZ

16 November 2018 – 2 March 2019

In February 2018 Fiona Jack opened the exhibition Our Red Aunt at the Glasgow Women’s Library in Scotland. Centered around the artist’s Great Grand Aunt, the Scottish suffragette and radical communist Helen Crawfurd (1877–1954), Our Red Aunt employed collaborative artistic strategies to create a shared re-engagement with Crawfurd’s life work.

Riverbed continues the reflection on shared political narratives established in Our Red Aunt, while embedding the development of the Riverbed project within a network of communities here in Aotearoa. Fiona Jack views activist and social justice advocate Sue Bradford as a contemporary counterpart of Helen Crawfurd, and developed the Riverbed project in close conversation with her.

Since 1999 Bradford has been working as a member of the education-based social justice collective, Kotare Trust. Based in Wellsford, the trust provides a physical space and the pedagogical resources for reflective, collaborative learning. Aiming to assist others to ‘regard the world with clear vision, speak with a strong voice and act with a bold heart’ Kotare Trust works to proactively support the wairua of those working at the coalface of social transformation. The kaupapa of the Kotare Trust is at the heart of this exhibition.

Fiona Jack and Sue Bradford have facilitated a series of workshops at Artspace NZ and Kotare over the winter months of 2018. During each workshop participants have been invited to shape rocks from a variety of clays while engaging in facilitated group discussion around a topical issue. Emerging out of these dialogues among many hands and voices, each rock included in this exhibition perhaps carries an echo of collective thought within its vibrant matter. Together the rocks become a socially formed lithosphere.

Through the dialogic nature of this process, Jack and Bradford prioritise our political present as one in which listening and action are both embodied and intersubjective, where the experiences we each draw on can find shared value. Listening, engagement and the exchange of knowledge are at the heart of any true potential for social and political transformation.

Jack cites artist and former teacher Michael Asher (1943-2012) as a key influence in the development of her own artistic methods. The extended and polyvocal critical praxis he developed while teaching at the California Institute of the Arts reverberates in the ethos of Riverbed. Jack herself is now a teacher at the Elam School of Fine Arts, and many of her past and present students have also been actively involved in the Riverbed project. The Auckland Studio Potters society where Jack has been a pottery student for six years is another community connected to the exhibition. At the society’s Onehunga teaching centre each of the rocks made by workshop participants have gone through a 15 hour-long wood firing.

Bringing the pedagogical praxis of Bradford and Asher together through the contexts of The Glasgow Women’s Library, Auckland Studio Potters, and Artspace NZ, Jack gestures to an open field of learning. As such, Riverbed is an imaginative provocation that connects artistic, pedagogical and political concerns, asking how we might use our hands to organise, and to enable our korero to shape our world, together.

Find a link to the Floorsheet for this exhibition here

Information on the workshops can be found here

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace

Photo Sam Hartnett, Artspace


Glasgow Women’s Library

Friday 2nd February to Saturday 17th March

A collection of new works responding to the work and life of Fiona’s Great Grand Aunt, prominent Scottish activist and suffragette Helen Crawfurd (née Jack). Along with friends and collaborators Fiona has made a series of books, banners, sculptures and ceramics that respond to Helen Crawfurd’s legacy and the relevance of her critical perspectives today.

PDF of a conversation between Fiona Jack and Adele Patrick about Our Red Aunt

Glasgow Women’s Library

In the hands of the proletariat
Photo: Allan Dimmick

In the hands of the proletariat/ Library
Photo: Allan Dimmick

In the hands of the proletariat
Photo: Allan Dimmick

Glasgow Women’s Library Banner, Fiona Jack, 2017

Mum, Helen and I
Fiona Jack, 2017

High rise bakers

Photo Allan Dimmick

Feminist, Fiona Jack, 2017


The Showroom, London, July 2017



ESRA 2017

Whau the People, Satin applique, fringe and embroidery on silk. Typeface by Janet Lilo, embroidery references Vaimaile Urale’s Tatau mural and design for Whau Arts Festival 2015, banner held by Jody McMillam. Donated to Whau the People at the opening of their community art space All Goods, 2016.

Whau the People, Satin applique, fringe and embroidery on silk.

Typeface by Janet Lilo, embroidery references Vaimaile Urale’s Tatau mural and design for Whau Arts Festival 2015, banner held by Jody McMillam. Donated to Whau the People at the opening of their community art space All Goods, 2016.

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SOUL Ihumatao, Fiona Jack and Rebecca Ann Hobbs, Fabric paint, fringe and satin applique on silk.

Donated to SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) community action group in Ihumatao, Mangere.

Calarts banner small

Calarts Faculty Union, satin and cotton applique onto cotton.

Donated to faculty members at Calarts during their 2015 mobilisation to unionise.


Plutocracy, Fiona Jack and Olivia Blyth, fabric paint on cotton, 2015.


AND PER SE AND, Galería Perdida & Fiona Jack & Aram Saroyan, Three projects organized by Michael Ned Holte, April 23—May 28, 2016, Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles


From the catalogue text by Michael Ned Holte:

Fiona Jack is an artist working in Auckland, New Zealand. Driven by research and dialogue, her work often explores the social space of political action, and she frequently draws upon collaboration in and with specific communities. The 2014 exhibition “The Heraldry of Presence,” at Auckland’s Fresh Gallery ?tara, consisted entirely of banners—some made by the artist based on historical protest signs, others borrowed from community groups or produced in collaboration with them. “Banners can be disquiet, or celebratory,” Gwyneth Porter argues in an essay on Jack. “A banner, at a basic level, indicates the formation of a crowd, and a crowd suggests numbers of people that are too many to be a comfortable thing. A crowd is something that is big enough to make it hard to count it quickly, or at all, like a group of sparrows feeding. A group speaks of a collective and therefore a higher purpose; of a constituency or fellowship or conscience that is large enough to have power by virtue of its sheer force of volition.” The subject of Jack’s presentation at Commonwealth & Council follows from a single banner in “The Heraldry of Presence” exhibition that reads, in emphatic all-caps, “THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE IS LAW.” The banner follows from a placard seen in a photograph of women marching in the 1915 rent strikes in Glasgow. The image carries personal history for the artist: Her great aunt Helen Crawfurd was one of the key organizers of the strikes. But divorced from this specific origin it becomes possible for the phrase to be read in a variety of cultural or geographical contexts, reflecting popular sentiment on either side of the political spectrum. Here, the banner is made and remade, and in the force or absurdity of that repetition the phrase reveals its allegorical potential in the present—or even in the future.

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Duck tape on polyester

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Embroidery on silk, cable cord, dowel

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Fabric paint and appliqué on found textile

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Fabric paint on found textile, dowel

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Spray paint on linen/cotton

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Embroidery on found textile

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Fabric paint and graphite on cotton, dowel

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Cotton appliqué and fabric paint on cotton velvet

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Cotton appliqué on silk, dowel

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Embroidery and appliqué on cotton, dowel, rope_DSC9258 clearcut

The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Fabric paint on cotton, cable cord, fringe, dowel

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Found linen appliqué on cotton, cotton trim, tassels, brass rings

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Satin stitch on waxed linen

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Appliqué on found textiles, dowel

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Embroidery on found textile, needle

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Fabric paint on silk, found tassels, fringe, dowel

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The Will of the People is Law, 2016, Fabric paint on found textile, dowel

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Fasces, 2016, Embroidery on found textile

Photos above Fiona Jack

Photo below Ruben Diaz

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Fiona Jack, collaborators, contributors and participants.  Public event as part of SCAPE 8, 2015, Christchurch. Curated by Rob Garret.


Photo Bridget Anderson

Video Rick Harvie, Belmont Productions. 2015



The banners

Victoria Square Blanket, Digital print on cotton appliqued onto wool, Fiona Jack.

This blanket carries patches that depict the various elements present in Victoria square – a tree with a yellow ribbon tied around its trunk, the Captain Cook statue, the Queen Victoria statue, a seasonal flower garden, the Napoleon willow and its accompanying rock and plaque, the old Ti Kouka stand, two era of lampshades, the historic horse watering ramp, a seat, and an orange road cone that has been there for a year moving from place to place.

Victoria square clearcuttree detail



Barker’s Avenue, Silver thread on found fabric, Fiona Jack

Barker’s avenue is garden of native trees on the north bank of the ?t?karo-Avon river between Madras and Manchester Streets. It was established by Christchurch Beautifying Association member Samuel Barker in 1898 to celebrate and encourage awareness of the native species of the area. While over 600 plants and trees were transplanted here by Barker and other association members from their own gardens only a small number of the original trees have survived. Christchurch City Council Botanist Trevor Partridge helped identify which trees would be old enough to have been in the original planting by Samuel Barker in 1898. The 7 pictured on this banner (2 Totara, 2 Ti Kouka and 3 Tarata) are probably the only trees to have survived from the 19th century.



barkers detail 2

barkers detail 1



Daffodils, Wool and found cotton appliqued onto cotton velvet, Fiona Jack

daffodils_clearcut9 daffodials detail



Ti Kouka, Digital print on linen, Fiona Jack in collaboration with Nichola Shanley and Burnside High School art students.

Teachers: Nichola Shanley, Vanessa Sandes, Fiona Dwyer, Bob Tellick. Student Teacher: Katrina Lilly. Students: Henry Turner, Brie Rate, Emma Richardson, Emma Wothers, Nikita Adye , Jenny  Huang, Amos Dalike, Hannah  Colenbrander,  Ali Pickering, Sorayya Sabbath Season and Lauren Wood.

The oldest surviving plants in central Christchurch are the small number of Ti Kouka stands that have kept resprouting new growth since the area was a wetland. One such Ti Kouka stand is on the Burnside High School grounds and has been adopted by the school as their emblem and motto: ‘Reate sic dirige cursum – along this path direct your journey correctly’. This refers to the history of this particular stand of trees as important to Maori as a landmark, a resting place and a place of ritual. The drawing on this banner was made by a group of Burnside art students who collaboratively responded to Fiona’s invitation to picture the tree, its history and its significance to them.

burnside clearcut small burnside detail small



Redzones: Cyanotype Impressions, Cyanotype on cotton, Fiona Jack in collaboration with Liv Worsnop/Plant Gang.

This banner is a cyantopye/photogram of plant specimens gathered by Liv Worsnop since the Canterbury earthquake. The blossoming of biodiversity in untended redzoned areas is gradually receeding as spraying and maintenance rituals are restablished.
“Mint was growing alongside the edge of Avonside Tennis Club near a lemon balm and a little leaved succulent. In this backyard was also a blackboy peach, greengages, grapes and a cactus. They have now been sprayed. The mallow was their neighbour, it grew down a slope heading toward the river. I saw a tractor through there the other day. Dock is from the CBD but the patch has now gone. The fennel remains, its new growth is emerging while last years silver seed heads remain.”  Liv Worsnop 2015

cyanotype small



Landscape, Linen applique, Fiona Jack.

This quote from Bill Sutton’s diaries was published in Home magazine in an article by Lara Strongman advocating for the preservation of Sutton’s home after it was redzoned.


Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City, found fabric, applique, fabric paint

This banner depicts a modified version of Ebenezer Howard’s early diagram for the Garden City concept. The words are drawn from other forgotten Howard diagrams such as “The Vanishing point of Landlord’s rent” and “The Master Key” both of which illustrate aspects of Howard’s vision for the Garden City concept as one of radical social and economic reform. As towns in England were developed according to Garden City principles, many of these radical propositions dropped away as the picturesque calm of the Garden City idyll gained popularity.



An exhibition by Fiona Jack with contributors, collaborators and lenders
Fresh Gallery, Otara, Auckland, New Zealand
10 October – 8 November 2014


ka whawhai grey

Download a PDF of the catalogue including an essay by Gwynneth Porter: The Heraldry of Presence Fiona Jack et al

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Survivors’ Roll of Honour, 2014, screenprint, from one screen on paper, (20 screens used across edition), edition of 20, 76 x 56 cm, Commissioned by the Australian War Memorial Anzac Centenary Print Portfolio in 2014. Curated by Laura Webster.


Page 9 of 20: HEWITT H.M. – JARRETT P.T.

From the AWM website:

Based in Auckland, Fiona Jack works across a range of media, undertaking archival research and collaborating with various communities around New Zealand to examine social histories. The prints in this portfolio were commissioned as an edition of 20; however each of Jack’s prints is a unique print. Stretching across a white expanse of 20 sheets is a survivors’ roll of honour.

When thinking about family stories from both the First and Second World Wars Jack realised that “in our large extended family everyone known to me survived”. Growing up she had not recognised the significance of this or appreciated it as a blessing. Tales of traumatised and damaged people returning home carried an emotional weight, and Jack was conscious that while “they hadn’t made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ their experience was beyond anything I could imagine … yet none of them were on any national roll of honour”.  In contrast to Australia, it was unusual for the names of First World War survivors to be listed on New Zealand memorials, and there was no complete list of those who served and survived.

While it may appear to be a simple list, this singularly exhaustive roll of New Zealanders who fought in and survived the war was painstakingly assembled by Jack in collaboration with historian Phil Lascelles. It remains “the first and most complete list” of New Zealand First World War survivors to date, comprising 108,920 names compiled from original embarkation lists and extensive research.




Fiona Jack and Salome Tanuvasa, March 2013, Rosebank Artwalk, Auckland, curated by Marcus Williams.


The Trees

This photograph depicts two historic trees in Avondale on the former site of the Connell homestead and market garden – approximately 321 Rosebank Road. These trees and the open fertile land around them are the last remnants of the Rosebank area’s rich market garden history spanning 1870 to 2008. A monumental community effort saved these trees from removal by property developers, however they are soon to be hidden from view by new industrial buildings, and the land at their feet will be blanketed in concrete.

Digital photographic print (edition of 6 –  5 gifted to the community activists who led the effort to save the trees, and one to the Rosebank Peninsula community hall and church for permanent display), continuous spoken word performance over a weekend, ring-binder folder (council materials documenting the protracted proceedings), poems.

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“Pakuranga”, Fiona Jack 2012, Te Tuhi. Photo: Darren Glass


Fiona Jack, Billboard installation and booklet, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, 2012

Text by Shannon Te Ao:

In this installment of the Te Tuhi Billboard project Auckland-based artist Fiona Jack extends her ongoing series of works that re-present historical photographs within a contemporary art context. The three images presented in Pakuranga depict various outlooks from Te Tuhi’s immediate surroundings circa 1910. As Jack has done with previous projects, included alongside the billboards is an accompanying text. An edited transcript of a discussion facilitated by the artist presents a discursive response to the images from artists, writers and historians Alan La Roche, Nova Paul, Luke Willis Thompson and Pita Turei.

Scanned from glass plate negatives and then reproduced as billboards, Jack’s latest project encourages us to consider transpositions of material and cultural histories. From a position only a few hundred metres from where the original photographs were taken, the viewer may reflect upon the immeasurable transformation that the Pakuranga and wider Auckland area has undergone since the images were first captured. This is reflected through the combination of technologies used as well. Upon close inspection of the billboards skins the viewer may notice scratches, dust and other markings inherent to glass plate photographic technology intentionally left visible as a reminder of the images’ origins. Within the layers of archival evidence found in the content of imagery and the materiality of the medium, the billboards’ potential as a point of historical contemplation is engaged.

The provided transcript offers reflections on the relationship between the production of the original glass plates, the surrounding social and cultural contexts as well as the significance of all these today. The discussion itself moves from factual points of interest relating to flora, to histories of tangata whenua to more nuanced conversation akin to artistic response. With this, the artist proposes for, not only a deeper understanding of the potentially divergent histories that we may veil over a particular place but also a discursive model for talking about art.

Te Tuhi Booklet PDF


Election Day (2)

Fiona Jack, Prospect, curated by Kate Montgomery, City Gallery Wellington, 2011

Fiona Jack, as part of Prospect–curated by Kate Montgomery, City Gallery Wellington, 2011
Fiona Jack, as part of Prospect, curated by Kate Montgomery, City Gallery Wellington, 2011

Text by Kate Montgomery:

“Well aware of its relevance within an exhibition that opens on polling–day in the capital, Fiona Jack’s work for Prospect asks us to consider an archival image closely related to the history of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

Jack invited a small group of Wellington women to gather together and talk about the photograph “Election Day in New Plymouth, 1893”. The conversation that evolved was transcribed and edited by Jack, and these shared thoughts now find themselves represented within a small typeset publication that’s free for visitors to take away.

Jack’s project offers multpiple ways of looking at, and reading into, the archival image that is presented within the gallery–writ large upon the wall. The conversation is an open one, initiated by the fact that when this image was published in the book “Standing in the Sunshine: A history of New Zealand women since they won the vote” (1993) it was posited as possibly the first photo taken of women voting freely in a national election anywhere in the world.

Drawing strength from the participatory framework of this project, Jack points to a specific moment in history as a catalyst for shared consideration. Other collaborative projects like Kohimarama (2008/9), My fellow Citizens (2009) and Living Halls (2010) have also operated within the same fertile space between history, memory and document and have invited Jack’s participants to help fill that space with their own ideas, readings and perspectives.

Election Day booklet PDF, City Gallery Wellington, Fiona Jack

Election Day (1)

Fiona Jack, ‘Post Office’ , Artspace, Auckland, 2010, curated by Robin Pickens

This text is an edited transcript of a conversation held at ARTSPACE on Karangahape Road in Auckland, New Zealand, on the 20th of April 2010. Participants Fiona Amundsen, Cassandra Barnett, Rebecca Hobbs, Fiona Jack, Louise Menzies, Layla Rudneva-Mackay and Robyn Pickens were invited to discuss the photo, Election day in New Plymouth, 1893.

Election Day 1 booklet PDF, Artspace, Fiona Jack 2010

George Herbert White, Election Day New Plymouth, 1893, PHO2008:626, Collection of Puke Ariki, New Plymouth.
George Herbert White, Election Day New Plymouth, 1893, PHO2008:626, Collection of Puke Ariki, New Plymouth.





Fiona Jack, March 2012, posters throughout Auckland city.

with boy


In 2012, following a breakdown in negotiations with their employer and in defence of key aspects of their Collective Employment Agreement, unionised waterside workers at Ports of Auckland took strike action. Taking place against a backdrop of the privatisation of public infrastructure and substantial liberalisation of labour laws, this action was subject to intense scrutiny from the national media and generated sustained public debate.

One hundred and sixty of the striking workers agreed to be photographed for posters that were pasted throughout Auckland city during the strike. Each poster consisted of a single portrait, with no text and no name. The workers did not want or need to be named. They recognised that the dissemination of their portraits throughout the city would serve to witness each of them as ordinary, hardworking people – a gesture that countered the anti-union assertion that they formed a singular, gang-like entity. The portraits reminded the Auckland public of the waterside workers’ individual human dignity and reflected back to them the most basic aspirations of their fellow citizens.

Kingsland POrtworkers    20120318_3566 20120318_3592 20120318_3602

The participants choose not to be named.



Fiona Jack, August 2011, contribution to the s/f newspaper Freedom of Speech

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The three text groups trace the ownership and parent companies of New Zealand’s three major print media conglomerates.

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Fiona Jack and contributors, 2010, Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth.

 Young men and women rock and roll dancing (in Karaka War Memorial Hall), ca 1956, photographer unknown, Ref:PA1-f-192-42-2 Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.
Young men and women rock and roll dancing (in Karaka War Memorial Hall), ca 1956, photographer unknown, Ref:PA1-f-192-42-2 Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.


The paintings, drawings, honour boards, documents, databases, books, photos, stories and audio recordings that make up the many facets of this project form a living archive of the War Memorial halls of Aotearoa. Following the Second World War, New Zealanders wholeheartedly embraced the idea of constructing utilitarian memorials to honour soldiers killed in action instead of the traditional monuments favoured after the First World War. Government subsidies encouraged the widespread building of community centres and halls as living memorials for all to share. These were monuments with an inside, conceptually complex spaces that were built by communities to symbolise their grief, but also to solve a practical need for a place to gather. To look further at our research and exhibitions for this project please follow the various links below.

List of war memorial halls

Living Halls text by architectural historian Bill McKay

Photos of Halls

MacAndrew Bay
MacAndrew Bay

Fiona Jack’s photos of Memorial Hall exteriors.


Drawings from the Living Halls exhibition

Waitawheta War Memorial Hall, Fiona Jack, ink on paper, 150 x 225mm, 2010. Partial Replica of drawing held by Archives New Zealand Wellington, artist unknown, reference IA1 3137 174/33
Waitawheta War Memorial Hall, Fiona Jack, ink on paper, 150 x 225mm, 2010. Partial Replica of drawing held by Archives New Zealand Wellington, artist unknown, reference IA1 3137 174/33

Most of New Zealand’s Memorial Halls were designed and built by local people, for local people. The National Archives in Wellington houses over 700 correspondence files relating to each Memorial subsidy application, and within some of those files there is a drawing that sketches out a vision for the hall. Some are overly ambitious, some are little more than a square drawn on a scrap piece of paper, but almost all the drawings are very close to what was eventually built. These drawings have been faithfully replicated in minute detail, honouring the vision and effort of the people that spent many years toiling away to fund, design, build and maintain their halls.

Excerpt from Rhana Devenport’s Living Halls essay: “The inherent nature of this artwork is informed by an approach not dissimilar to the concept of the living memorial. Jack’s is a ‘living work’; one that is both collaborative and functional in the sense of being an archive for the production of different knowledge systems associated with the halls. It steps away from the notion of singular authorship and any association with ‘dead memorials’.”
“The drawings remain a fundamental and intrinsic element within the project. In the exhibition space, a series of 48 drawings are carefully poised and pinned to a wall. Taking her cue from the visual evidence found in governmental and private archives, Jack, via a conscious re-drawing process, created a new meta-memorial to, in her words, ‘a post World War Two moment of public aspiration, when communities engaged in the visionary process of describing what they wanted to become’.iv The initial drawings of memorial halls could be read as imaginings of the possibility of making spaces to remember. Tracing a path from drawing to architectural form, Jack examined how ideas took shape and became part of a larger body or collective socio-cultural whole that stretched across Aotearoa. Jack is critically engaged in, as she notes; ‘picturing how communities picture themselves’.”

Click here to view the Living Halls drawings

Text by Rhana Devenport about Living Halls


Paintings from the Living Halls exhibition

Today a great many War Memorial Halls are still loved and maintained by their communities. In response to the original impetus for communities to decide for themselves what their hall would look like, Jack invited local painters around the country to depict their neighbourhood Memorial Hall, creating a rich visual archive that reflects the close and active relationships between these buildings and those who use them.

Excerpt from Rhana Devenport’s Living Halls essay: “Elsewhere in the exhibition is a room that houses a series of fifty paintings of the buildings; each is attributed to its maker. Jack’s invitation to painters across Aotearoa to make ‘portraits’ of their war memorial halls provides a compelling and potent avenue of participation within the Living Halls project. This is a commissioned collection, an orchestrated venture, an archive of others’ cultural production, the invitation was consistent to all painters and all submissions were accepted. Jack’s role as commissioner here is an interesting one in terms of the formation of this new archive which temporally catapults the war memorial hall phenomenon into a shared space of today. She has, with considered thought, eschewed the perhaps obvious pull towards documentary photography as a more objective (and possibly melancholic) archiving element within the project, and prefers instead to allocate this series (accumulated via her own camera and from various contributing photographers) to the digital and printed database component. The paintings, quite simply, bring multiple and subjective (even fictive) perspectives into the wider understanding of the buildings and their role. By engaging in the commissioning process Jack embeds these disparate and personal contemporary experiences into this multi-faceted archive.”

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

Click here to view the Living Halls paintings


Honour Boards from Living Halls exhibition


Click here to view the Living Halls Honour Boards



Fiona Jack and Ngarimu Blair (Ngati Whatua o Orakei). Artspace billboard, Karangahape Road, Auckland, 2008/9



This billboard is a montage of two photos. One was taken in 2008 (Haruhiko Sameshima) and is of the headland most commonly known as Bastion Point, or Takaparawhau. The other, taken in 1901 (James D Richardson), is of “Bastion Rock” or Kohimaramara – the rock off the point that was removed in the early 1900s. The name Kohimaramara literally translated can mean “to collect the remnants”, and reflects that the Maori who lived there and gathered there thought of it as “the peacemaking area” – a place to collect the remnants of conflict and dispute and to make peace. The Tamaki Yacht Club building now sits on this land.


Kohimaramara, a text by Layla Rudneva-Mackay

There are things I have not done. Things I have not thought. There are things I could do, things I should do. Why do I not do them? What am I afraid of? I am not afraid, I am lazy, I am embarrassed. I was born here but still what have I done to you? I care for you but I can’t help myself, I can’t stop. I know I will do it to you again. Where is my pride? My pride is misdirected. Can you help me find my way? Can I come to you like the day of old, can we sit together and talk? If you speak to me will I listen now. Can we look out to the yacht club and know it was once an island, an island that I cannot see. I feel loss. I feel lost. What have I done? I don’t remember. How can I find my way when the path I traveled has grown into a city that does not know itself. Kohimaramara lost its Island and I took it made it into a road or was it the causeway? Or maybe it became part of the foundations of the Shortland street Post Office, I just can’t remember. The things I wrote down then make no sense today. I knew nothing then as I know now. I once called you Sugarloaf, I guess that’s because you looked like one. I once thought I knew what your name meant but at no time did I ask you. History is not white, I am, and as I am dependent on the written word for my history I become lost, and I have come to know of a lost island.






Fiona Jack, Posters, edition 50, woodblock print and silkscreen on cardboard. Printed and designed by Colby Poster, Los Angeles, s/f split/fountain, Auckland, New Zealand, 2009


Colby Poster Printing Co. in Los Angeles is a family run business operating since 1946 who produce a significant portion of the printed material that is iconic to downtown LA. Their letterpress fluorescent posters are widely used for fiestas, carnivals and political campaigning. For this project I gave Colby a sentence (with no context) and asked them to design, typeset and print 50 posters however they wished. The text was the first sentence of Barack Obama’s inauguration speech. When I went to pick up the posters they told me that they had done “something special” for me. They had printed my posters on top of posters from the overrun (trash) pile.











General Assembly

Fiona Jack, Installation (paint, pencil contributions, documents) Mary Newton Gallery, Wellington, 2008

General Assembly asks why New Zealand voted against ratifying the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 along with Australia, Canada, and the US. Canada has since signed and Australia have announced that they will, leaving the US and NZ as the only two countries voting against.

The declaration is presented in two parts. The preambular paragraphs, which express the aspirations of the declaration, are each presented as small and detailed paintings of paragraphs that were handwritten by members of the public around the world. The articles of the treaty are written on the wall of the gallery by visitors to the exhibition who choose to contribute.

Update: in April 2010 the NZ government signed this declaration. NZ Herald article

Shinae, Korea, New Zealand
Shinae, Korea, New Zealand
Mose, Samoa, New Zealand
Mose, Samoa, New Zealand
Richard, England, New Zealand
Richard, England, New Zealand
Sock-Cheng, Singapore, New Zealand
Sock-Cheng, Singapore, New Zealand
Sonya, New Zealand, New Zealand
Sonya, New Zealand, New Zealand
Jacinda Australia, Australia
Jacinda Australia, Australia
Rabdeep, New Zealand, New Zealand
Rabdeep, New Zealand, New Zealand
Tamsen, New Zealand, New Zealand
Tamsen, New Zealand, New Zealand
Kassy, New Zealand, New Zealand
Kassy, New Zealand, New Zealand
Peter, Australia, Australia
Peter, Australia, Australia
Sara, New Zealand, Canada
Sara, New Zealand, Canada
Toshi, Canada, Australia
Toshi, Canada, Australia
Ruth, New Zealand, New Zealand
Ruth, New Zealand, New Zealand
Rebecca, New Zealand, New Zealand
Rebecca, New Zealand, New Zealand
Rachel, Australia, New Zealand
Rachel, Australia, New Zealand
Ash, New Zealand, New Zealand
Ash, New Zealand, New Zealand
Jessica, New Zealand, New Zealand
Jessica, New Zealand, New Zealand
Anne-Marie, New Zealand, New Zealand
Anne-Marie, New Zealand, New Zealand
Emily, New Zealand, lives New Zealand
Emily, New Zealand, lives New Zealand
Loretta, Australia, New Zealand
Loretta, Australia, New Zealand
Joyce, New Zealand, New Zealand
Joyce, New Zealand, New Zealand
Andrea, New Zealand, Australia
Andrea, New Zealand, Australia
Andrew, USA, Australia
Andrew, USA, Australia

United Nations forum (Full declaration text avail here)

Converge website – NGO working towards NZ signing the declaration

New Zealand’s statement

Mary Newton Gallery


Fiona Jack, Installation – various media, Projectspace and Spare room, Melbourne, Australia. International Artist in Residence partnership between RMIT School of Art and The South Project inc., August 2008



TAXI, text by Nicola Harvey

One of the impediments to writing smoothly about a site-specific art work yet to take form is the likelihood of being distracted by the elaborate web of research documents and entertaining facts recounted by the artist, in this instance, over a cup of tea. Fiona Jack’s art is typically shrewd, complex and persistently well researched, thus it seems appropriate to review a few facts, figures and anecdotes relating to the current exhibition at RMIT Project Space, whilst bearing in mind that such information does not fully elucidate the concerns the artist is attempting to translate visually. However, on the 29th April 2008 a young, part-time taxi driver was stabbed, allegedly by his passenger, and left for dead near Queen’s Parade in Melbourne. On the 30th April approximately 300 Melbourne taxi drivers, reportedly mostly of Indian descent, staged a protest at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets calling for immediate action by the Victorian State Government to improve security for taxi drivers and to introduce a system of prepaid fares for all passengers between 10pm – 5am. Oh, and they also requested all parking tickets incurred during the protest be waivered. Something else worth noting is during the period 2006-07 the second highest group of immigrants who became Australian citizens were from India. Rounding out the top 10 countries from which new Australian citizens derived were: UK, China, New Zealand, South Africa, Philippines, Sudan, Malaysia, Afghanistan and Vietnam.1 Also, according to the Melbourne Herald Sun, around 400 Victorian taxi drivers are injured every year on the job.2

As this essay is not intended to descend into a diatribe on cultural difference let me elaborate that Jack’s interest in such miscellaneous pieces of information are but part of an endeavor to create site-specific projects that are concerned with art historical and institutional narratives, but also with integrating art more directly into the realm of the social in order to redress certain issues. In short, Jack’s interest in the Situationists’ legacy posits her practice as “an art of dialogue, an art of interaction”.3 Without the strategy of interaction (in Melbourne this included interviews, media research, and days hanging with the cabbies at the Tullamarine airport ramp), her site-specific projects would be almost reticent (albeit sublime in their abstract, painterly expanse). In her research Jack seeks out moments that can be defined as a tipping point in a community – an event that creates an indelible, unretractable mark on the social fabric. For recent exhibitions, Jack has delved into the history and legacy of the 68 Watts riots in LA (using Guy Debord’s seminal text, ‘The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy’ as a catalyst), and explored the tradition of muraling and graffiti in Santiago, Chile. Which, as Jack discovered during a residency in October 2006, is still propagated by the Brigada Ramona Parra, a mural brigade established by the Youth League of the Communist Party during the Pinochet dictatorship, who continue to present a dissenting political voice in Santiago as they did during the regime. In both instances Jack spent many weeks infiltrating the daily routines of the communities marked by these events and traditions. In Santiago Jack’s interaction with the politically motivated mural brigade, plus reconnaissance on various parts of the city (predetermined by the dropping of nine corn kernels on a map of the city by an old woman at one of the Fondas taking place around Santiago during the celebration of Chile’s national day), and daily conversations with locals who lived near the wall Jack had commandeered as her site – a 36 metre wall encircling the art gallery Centro Cultural Matucana 100 – inspired an expansive abstract mural running the length of the wall. It commanded the attention of passers-by with its shear visual audacity, but did not impinge on their journey with confronting didactics. It was not until a passer-by stopped to consider the work would they be delighted by the tiny phrases and fragments of text scattered across the surface like a dandelion head blown into the wind. These words were totems for the true ‘site(s)’ of the work, not a location on a map but a series of situations laid out like an itinerary.

Such regular movement between countries and moments and amongst people, whilst informing Jack’s practice, does not exist without its own set of problems. The very nature of artist residencies and site-specific projects (that being transitory) have the potential to highlight cultural difference as a principal discursive fiction. It is difficult to avoid producing a work that Miwon Kwon so aptly suggests can be a “temporary antidote for the anxiety of boredom”4. Thankfully Fiona Jack has not yet appeared bored and continues to navigate her itinerary of sites with a clear view of preserving fragments from her interactions to be translated onto the gallery wall (or a specific spatial site), without pivoting the spotlight directly onto her sources. Jack’s practice resists producing a spectacle, instead she seems focused on marrying a commanding painting talent with the intricate details of her research; the result being far more exciting than the pile of newspaper clippings I have in front of me now.

Nicola Harvey is a writer and Communications and Distribution Assistant for frieze Magazine.

1. Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
2. Gareth Trickey, ‘Cabbies in Safety Victory’, Herald Sun, April 30th 2008
3. ‘Situationist Manifesto’, 17 May 1960, Situationist International Online,
4. ‘One Place After Another: Notes of Site Specificity’, Miwon Kwon, 1997. in Theory in Contemporary Art since 1985, ed. Kocur & Leung, (Blackwell: Australia) 2005, pg 49.













A collaboration between Ngarimu Blair and Ngati Whatua O Orakei, Fiona Jack, New Artland and community volunteers. Manuka, rope, steel. 100 metres long. Okahu Bay, Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand, 2008.



In May 1943 a palisade fence was built by trade unionists and volunteers around the Ngati Whatua O Orakei papakainga in Okahu Bay on Auckland’s waterfront. It was built in an attempt to regain some privacy and maintain a sense of community in the face of encroaching colonial urbanisation which was exacerbated by the construction of a major roadway through the village that separated the main living areas from the sea. Less than ten years after the palisade was built the village was burnt to the ground and the inhabitants evicted with no compensation or purchase agreement offered at that time. In April 2008 Ngati Whatua O Orakei, Fiona Jack and New Artland organised a group of volunteers to reconstruct this palisade using similar materials and techniques. The palisade fence was installed in the same position as the original fence (now a public park alongside the roadway) for three months. It was then dismantled into sections and used as a community resource. The programme made about the Palisade project for Television New Zealand’s New Artland series can be viewed online at (within New Zealand only).

Wood Gathering

Ngai Tai ki Umupuia Marae, Ngai Tai offered manuka to the project as a koha. Volunteers from Umupuia and Auckland worked for a day chopping trees out of the forest; gathering and loading over 2000 stakes into a truck, and unloading the stakes into a pile in Okahu bay.

Building weekend

Friday 18th April: Powhiri/welcome to Orakei Marae for the project volunteers. After the powhiri there was a shared meal, a korero from Ngarimu Blair about the history of Ngati Whatua, and an overnight stay on the marae. Photos by Lousie Lever.


Sunday 20th April: 9.45am Whakawaatea – blessing & opening of the palisade, Okahu Bay Reserve. Photos by Nicola Hill.

Additional building day at the marae

The first building weekend produced a palisade fence of approximately 70 metres long. To reach the original length of 100 metres there was a second building day at Orakei marae with volunteers and community service workers.

The palisade



Fiona Jack, drawings and found book pages, Mary Newton Gallery, Wellington, 2007.


Fiona Jack, drawings, Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland, 2007



This series of drawings is based on the promotional drawings for tract housing developments in the Inland Empire (east of Los Angeles) built by controversial developers KB Home. Each drawing is titled according to the name of the new housing development, and are made up of overlaid front elevations of all the house plans available for that subdivision. KB stands for Kauffman Broad. Edith and Eli Broad are important art patrons in California.

kb street







Centro Cultural Matucana 100, 2006. As part of the Trans Versa exhibition, The South Project.


A line that goes from the beginning until the end

Text by Camilo Yanez (translated from Spanish)

From that time before fax, internet, mobile phones and notebooks with WIFI, I remember a game that kids used to play, which consisted in the creation of a communication artifact. It was made of simple materials, two plastic glasses and one long piece of cotton thread. The glasses were perforated on the base, the thread passed through and then a knot was made, in order to keep both of the threads joined. The device worked thanks to the tension of the thread, transmitting the waves of sound that one emitted with the glass in its mouth, and that another one listened putting the glass in its ear the hole. Though it was simple and basic, it worked, making the users overcome the distance, establishing some kind of protocol with the clear intention of communicating themselves.

I think about the Transversa Project under the same logic: through a huge invisible thread a stable state, more than a communication protocol, was achieved: a communication state. Almost all of the works reached their final crystallization, with the feedback that produced the in situ situation in Santiago de Chile. Transversa was an open project that played the open way, and that established as the central logic a genuine desire of interchange.

Transversa generated a series of relationships that were connected to each other –some of them programmed, some fortuitous- that in almost four weeks were able to multiply and strengthen. Fiona Jack’s  work, in the huge exterior wall of Centro Cultural Matucana 100  used those principles, conquering in this way it’s own constructive poetic.

From a map of Santiago, Fiona randomly dropped a certain amount of corn  grains, these grains indicated distant and diverse places that she had to investigate and to know, according to her initial working program.

Fiona visited the pointed places, registered and wrote down some notes; she made sketches and pasting, digital photos, photoshop works, underlined some texts, developed technical data and infinity of steps that were edited every day to form part of the artwork. The fugacity of every new fact and its latency in the immediate memory constituted a main part of her artwork on the wall.

Neither abstract nor figurative, the artwork was a formal cartography full of intimate anecdotes that rapidly acquired features of universality. The mural work of Jack overflowed its own way of operating proposing a new visual in the area, different from grafittis, political publicity or poster pasting.

At first sight the enormous wall did not impose its presence in the street, on the contrary, it discovered itself step by step. With the color, figuration and textuality the artwork showed its intention of being a new trace, formally and conceptually speaking. A bidimensional painting, that represented a multidirectional circulation and communication system, whose depth of perspective was given by the experience of the artist, in the place where the artwork was made.

More than once, during the elaboration of the mural, different persons wrote or draw over the work, and Fiona,instead of covering and hiding, marked and pointed those interventions, as a way of accenting the interaction of others on her work.

There’s no doubt that Fiona Jack’s artwork managed to specify an invisible line from the origin place to the destiny place, in the same way that the sphere of Pascal raised by Borges, the work managed to have its center everywhere and its perimeter anywhere.

Camilo Yañez. Artist and Curator.  Cobquecura, January 2007.

Photo: Joaquin Luzoro, 2006
Photo: Joaquin Luzoro, 2006
Photo: Joaquin Luzoro, 2006
Photo: Joaquin Luzoro, 2006
Photo: Joaquin Luzoro, 2006
Photo: Joaquin Luzoro, 2006
Photo: Joaquin Luzoro, 2006
Photo: Joaquin Luzoro, 2006





Undo what is riveted. see river

Physics Room, Christchurch, 2006




I can cross these lines, I can walk these roads, I can change these colours

Gallery A402, CalArts, Los Angeles, USA, 2005



Billboard installation, Nomad, London, 2005


Text courtesy of Nomad: PLEASE TAKE ONE is a body of work dealing with, to put it simply, countries, borders and rights. In a time when birth-right dictates ones privileges -or lack of- Jack scrutinized the notion of what divides one country from another in its simplest form, a line.

PLEASE TAKE ONE existed for one night only. Jack hand-copied every shared border in The New Internationalist map of the world; reduced the resulting line into a small card; stacked them into pockets organized in alphabetical order and finally placed them across the three billboards (PLEASE-TAKE-ONE) thus, the first pocket on the PLEASE billboard contained drawings of the Afghani and Chinese border whilst the last pocket on the ONE billboard contained the Uzbek and Turkmenistani.




Self published, laser print, perfect bound, edition of 188, 2004.



From the introduction to the book:

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 1.50.23 PM

PDF of book can be viewed here

Inlcuded with each edition of the book is a copy of the letter sent to the editor of Merriam-Westers’ Collegiate Dictionary, along with a copy of their response. These letters can be viewed here:

Letter to editor

Merriam Webster letter







 Silkscreen on wallpaper, 2004

final wallpaper

The objects listed/pictured are present as text entries in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition) and are all objects originating from the country of their name. However in these 21 instances while objects from country are listed, the people of that country are not listed in the dictionary.


Full title: Missing Peoples’ Things: Austrian Pine, Bermuda bag, Bermuda grass, Bermuda Onion, Bermuda rig, Bermudas, Brazil nut, brazil wood, cayman, Cuba libre, Cuban heel, Cuban sandwich, Iceland moss, Iceland poppy, Iceland spar, Jamaica rum, morocco, Norfolk Island pine, panama, panama red,  Sudan grass.



Contribution to The Great Park Project  for the Orange County Bienniale, with FutureFarmers/Amy Francescini, 2004


Project description from the website: The Great Park Project as presented by FutureFarmers is a critical enquiry into the future land use of this former military base. The project was conceived for the 2004 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art and Orange Lounge. The Great Park Project on Orange County’s former El Toro Marine Corps was being developed into “America’s biggest public park”. This transitional space offers fertile ground for research and discourse surrounding notions of the political and social organization of open space in urban areas.

The paintings were developed using a colour key which overlapped proposed uses for the controversial development (housing, parks, industrial, research, and so on) with colour schemes drawn from prolific Californian home builders Warmington Homes.

warmington #3 traditional





Wall Painting

Blue Oyster Gallery, Dunedin, 2000





33 billboards, Auckland City, 1997