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Meet the Creatives at Toi Auaha – Chloe Summerhayes

Visual Arts

Chloe Summerhayes is a visual artist at Toi Auaha who explores themes of the subconscious in her work. She spoke to us about what creativity means to her.


How would you describe what you do?

 I utilize drawing and painting to explore temporality, connection and the subconscious. Not unlike my personal experience of mortal existence, I work in a way pertaining to trial and error, failure and the unavoidable fortuitous. I like to swing between representational and abstract painting depending on how I can best express my ideas and emotions.

What was your most recent project?

 A series of works for a solo show at Chambers Gallery.

What project have you worked on that you’re the most proud of?

Completing my MFA at The University of Canterbury was a big achievement for me.

What is essential for creatives to have in their life?

It might sound silly, but I think boredom is really essential for creatives. It can be hard to come by these days with technology and the internet at our fingertips 24/7.  I find I have more interesting ideas or realisations when I’m doing nothing and not really thinking about anything.

What inspires you about Ōtautahi?

The people and the history of the city. I think the earthquakes Ōtautahi went through were a catalyst for changing attitudes for creatives in this city. Pre-quake, things felt permanent and like there was less room for unconventional projects. Since then, people have had to come up with solutions to limited resources or spaces and out of that, there have been some really exciting and unique opportunities.

What piece of advice about your creative work has served you well?

“Stop now! It’s finished.” (I tend to overwork and not know when to leave it alone)

What’s the biggest misconception about your creative work?

I’m not entirely sure but perhaps that it’s more intellectual than it actually is. I don’t like to conceptualise too much as it tends to kill the enjoyment and motivation I get from making the work.

What Christchurch artists do you most admire?

There are too many for me to list but if I had to name just a few off the top of my head… Barbara Boekelman, Roger Boyce, Tyne Gordon.

What artwork/piece of music/performance has taken your breath away?

The Sky Is Not So Different From Us, Perhaps

Choreographic work by James O’hara, performed by The Royal New Zealand Ballet with music by Anita Clark (Motte).

What do you wish you’d have known about creative work when you were younger?                

There is no point in trying to make art that other people will like or admire. Following your own instincts and interests will inevitably lead to art of value.                               

What’s your favourite hidden secret in Ōtautahi?

The eels in the Avon River. Hard to spot a lot of the time but so graceful and menacing.


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