Natalie Guy

While working towards a Doctor of Fine Arts, award-winning sculpturist Natalie Guy balanced several exhibitions and residencies in New Zealand and around the world. Her doctoral research explores the idea of translation in the language of sculpture.

Natalie Guy (Doctor of Fine Arts candidate) with her sculpture, 'The Pool', a permanent public work in Christchurch.

Programme: Doctor of Fine Arts
Supervisors: Professor Michael Parekowhai, Dr Sean Kerr and Dr Lucille Holmes
School: Elam School of Fine Arts
Awards: Tai Tapu Sculpture Garden 10th Anniversary Award (2021), National Contemporary Art Merit Award (2014), Woollahra Small Sculpture Award (2014)
Residencies: Sculpture Space Residency (Utica, USA, 2019), Bundanon Trust Residency (New South Wales, Australia, 2018)

Journey to doctoral research

“After working in the corporate world for many years, I left my job as an international marketing manager to complete postgraduate study in Arts. After my masters show, my work was picked up by an art gallery, and I worked as an artist for a few years.

“The idea of doing a doctoral programme was always in the back of my mind, but I wanted to make sure I had a clear idea of what I wanted to focus my research on. I’d been reading around ideas of mutual influence, the idea that various creative works respond to each other, like a conversation. That led me to translation as a literary topic. There’s been very little research around the use of translation in fine arts, and this made for a really interesting research project.

“Through my doctoral research, I looked at the translation of modernist architecture to sculpture. I explored the idea of a chain of translation – translation is never a dead-end; someone may translate the translation. I created works inspired by various architectural pieces – from the Futuna Chapel to swimming pool diving platforms."

A selection of Natalie's work

Life as a researcher

“My practical work informed my written work, and vice versa. I’d focus on creating sculptures for a couple of months, then focus on writing for a couple of months.

“I had many events during my candidature, from a show at Hastings City Art Gallery to Sculpture on the Gulf on Waiheke Island. One particular show at Te Tuhi had a really pivotal impact on the rest of my works. It was the first time I’d used projection and animation programmes – an overlay swept across a wall, moving really slowly so you wouldn’t notice it – but by the end of the day it was entirely on the other side of the wall.

“Balancing the ever-growing pile of research, combined with the pressure to continue creating new works, can be quite overwhelming at times, but I got through it. All of my supervisors – Professor Michael Parekowhai, Dr Sean Kerr and Dr Lucille Holmes – were great, and they steered me through the programme really well.”

What’s next?

“The Doctor of Fine Arts has given me a good stepping stone to progress into a higher channel of work. My doctoral show was picked up by Tauranga Art Gallery and will be displayed for the rest of the year, which is really wonderful.

“I’ve had so many ideas that spun out of my doctorate, and I’m looking forward to continuing to make them. I’ve really enjoyed looking at my works through the translation lens, so I’d like to build on that momentum with future creative works."