NOT my day job | Zombie Nurse

Vet nurse Antoinette Ratcliffe - "I’d love to be able to work full time on my art practice, but I’d still have to work at least one day a week as a vet nurse. I need outside input otherwise I start going nuts..."
Zombie creator Antoinette Ratcliffe - "I make shiny candy coloured zombie animals, and the installations that they live in."
The zombie ladybird infestation continues. 'The ladders in your stockings reach up to your suspenders' is at The Brick Bay Sculpture Trail in Warkworth, Auckland.
"I’ve been working on creating an awareness of sinister suspense… the visitors are watched by the shiny candy coloured zombie animals who have their own agendas."
Cauterizing Schrodingers Cat
Looking after animals by day as a vet nurse has influenced Antoinette Ratcliffe's art, but not in the cutsie way you'd think.

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Looking after animals by day as a vet nurse has influenced Antoinette Ratcliffe's art, but not in the cutsie way you'd think.

Instead when the sun goes down in 'The Sick Bay' studio her ladybirds and bunnies come to life as brain eating, flesh tearing zombies.

Antoinette tells us about the inspiration for her creative work and juggling it with her day job.

What’s your day job?

By day I’ve been a vet nurse for nearly seven years.  Originally I trained because I wanted to work with animals. I really enjoy the surgery and medicine aspects of the job.

Tell us about your creative work when you're NOT doing your day job?

I make shiny candy coloured zombie animals, and the installations that they live in. I mostly work with plaster, casting from molds made with liquid latex. I usually use MDF for the larger scale pieces, and low tack vinyl for shadows or 2D additions.

B-grade horror films have influenced my current projects where I’ve been working on creating an awareness of sinister suspense… the visitors are watched by the shiny candy coloured zombie animals who have their own agendas.

How do you manage juggling both?

Some days, I don’t!  The other nurses at work end up being a sounding board for new ideas from time to time if I’ve been studio deprived. Usually I make a list at the start of the week and plan some studio time around my roster with specific things that need to be attacked.

Tell us about your creative background?

I completed my Bachelor of Media Art as a painting major at Wintec in 2001. I then went on the do my Honours year in 2002 as a installation/sculpture major. Nine years later I enrolled at Media Arts again for a Masters degree.

What has inspired you? Who or what keeps you going?

Inspiring… zombie movies, colour, Noel Feildings work, my 2013 Evie Kemp calender, random happenings with animals that become a story that needs to become something three dimensional. My friends keep me going - the creative ones and the ones with creative personalities.

Would you like your creative work to be full-time?

That’s tricky – I’d love to be able to work full time on my art practice, but I’d still have to work at least one day a week as a vet nurse. I need outside input otherwise I start going nuts and end up going round and round in circles in my head (speaking from experience).

What would help you achieve this?

Some cold hard cash. I’m looking for that art fairy god mother I hear about (she doesn’t live under the cushions on my couch…but I’ll keep looking just in case). 

If you could start your creative career or path again, what would you do differently?

I would probably not take such a long break in between my Honours year and doing Masters. It was such a shock to the system that in hindsight, I probably should have enrolled for part time study and taken two years to do it instead of just one year.

What advice would you give to someone pursuing a similar creative career or pathway?

Make the time to apply for funding regularly! That way your weekly wage is won’t dictate your art supplies and time budget. Say no from time to time, and watch Neil Gaimans speech Make good art regularly. Also, always make time for talking to other artists about their work and how they make what they do – sometimes that’s when the answers show up.

What’s your big idea for 2014?

More exhibitions… a solo show with Saatchi and Saatchi Auckland, additions to my installation at the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, getting my matchbox made for the Amnesty International ‘Strike’ fundraiser, a couple of smaller projects and a street art idea, a photography project with my characters, and do my best to keep my cat stable (he has lupus so his medications are a constant juggling act). I’m looking forward to it!

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See more about zombie animals at Antoinette's studio The Sick Bay, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

6 Nov 2013

The Big Idea Editor

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