Cat Auburn to pursue British PhD in Fine Arts

Cat Auburn, 'Rest Cure', 2009
Cat Auburn, 'Rest Cure' (detail), 2009
Cat Auburn, who is currently working in the studio of celebrated British sculptor Antony Gormley, has been accepted into a PhD programme at Northumbria University in the UK.


Former Wellington artist, Cat Auburn, who is currently working in the studio of celebrated British sculptor Antony Gormley, has been accepted into a PhD programme at Northumbria University in the UK to study with acclaimed Scottish artist, Christine Borland of Young British Artists fame.

Bartley + Company Art is now selling a large sculpture from Auburn's private collection to help her raise funds towards the cost of her study programme.

Auburn’s work has long been concerned with power relations and her doctoral research will continue this investigation. Building on her recent award-winning project The Horses Stayed Behind which looked at the participation of New Zealand horses in the Middle East Campaign of World War One, she will explore the legacy of New Zealand’s involvement in that campaign.

“Contemporary conflicts in the region can trace their lineage directly back to that era in which we sent troops into the desert on the back of New Zealand-bred horses. This odd path of study of little known stories from World War One leads to a very interesting discussion around race, privilege and inheritance, and I am excited to enter this highly relevant terrain,” Cat says.

“I’m uncomfortable with how power and privilege can be hidden in plain sight; I make artwork to shine a light on different systems of power and through lines from past to present.”

The large sculpture we are now selling from earlier in Auburn's career does that by employing anthropomorphism - the attribution of human motivation, characteristics or behaviour to animals - to explore notions of socialisation, power, freedom and constraint.

In Rest Cure, 2010, which showed first in Auckland and then at Christchurch Art Gallery, a horse in a four-poster bed references 19th century ‘treatments’ for women, where those who were deemed to be depressed, exhausted or behaving inappropriately were sent away for a rest cure - isolated from family and friends, confined to a bed, forbidden to do anything. Here Auburn plays with ideas around the shaping of perception and how perceptions of strength or vulnerability are informed by context.

Cat completed a Post-graduate Diploma in Fine Arts at the Elam School of Fine Arts at Auckland University and a Master of Fine Arts with distinction at Northumbria University in the UK in 2016. Known in New Zealand as a sculptor, her practice in the UK has expanded into film. In 2016, she won the 2016 Tyneside Cinema Graduate Artist residency; another film Preparing the Ground, started then, featuring heritage sites in three countries, will be completed in collaboration with New Zealand composer Gareth Farr. Shaken, a short film about an earthquake, commissioned by Channel 4 (UK) was shown on British television in 2018 and selected for the Aesthetica Short Film Festival.  From May to July 2019, Auburn is undertaking a three month artist residency with the British organization, D6: Culture in Transit, and will work with Gormley until the start of the PhD later this year.

We are delighted to have already sold one other work for study funds to a South Island collector and arts patron. A percentage of the sales is being donated to Auburn’s favourite charity Te Omanga Hospice.

“We are delighted to help Cat raise funds for her study as we believe Cat is an exciting artist who will have a significant career. She is a wonderful maker of high-quality work which is rich in conceptual content. She is studying overseas to create the networks that will help her achieve her an international career,” Alison Bartley said. 

For more information, please contact Alison Bartley;  +64 27 4436 123

Written by

Bartley + Company Art

27 Jun 2019