Miranda Parkes

Painter and multi media artist, Miranda Parkes, once said that art making was “an offering” to the viewer. Since Christchurch based Parkes finished art school (with a Masters in Fine Arts with distinction), she has been offering the viewer an ever changing, expanding and exuberant painterly body of work. Says Parkes, “The work is really about the process of making and it comes from that object base.” “Im dealing with how things feel and their weight and texture as well as how they look and it’s a bodily process.”

Her colours are bright and joyous. Fluorescent hues, confectionary like pastels, acidic and other high key colours combine and swirl. Her colours wriggle and jostle or (as in her site specific works) stand proud, against the backdrop of the greyness of life. An example of this is in her series for Scape7 in 2013, In her site specific works, Fielder, Parkes placed within the sad greyness of post earthquake Christchurch, large ‘billboards’ of colour. Although seemingly solid, these works have an open like grid structure, so we can see these colours almost melting into the environment. At other times, Parkes’s works may be small, but pack the same punch. Almost jewel like in their glistening intensity , they move us inwards towards an inner explosion of delight.

Some say that after Modernism, painting lost its way. Parkes however, is opening up a new conversation about art history and how it relates to contemporary life. In her works, many art history references can be found. From Frank Stella’s collages, Elizabeth Murray’s shaped canvases, to Matisse’s brilliant hues, each of Parkes’s works invents new ways to see and explore.

Is Miranda Parkes a sculptural painter or a painterly sculptor?  Either way, she has broadened her use of materials to include ceramics, video, poetry, site specific sculpture, collage, works on pallet, perspex, paper mache, the use of gold and silver leaf, pen and ink, drop sheets, hand dyed silks…the list is endless. All reflect her ability to manipulate paint, colour and form, to express the contemporary, the joyful, and the use of the body. Says Parkes of her works:”Im dealing with how things feel…their weight and texture as well as how they look and its quite a bodily process”. 

When Parkes first began her practice, she became widely celebrated for her so called “Scrunchie” paintings. One day, after working on a large yellow painting, she became frustrated at the lifelessness of the work. So she kicked the frame and it twisted and folded in on itself and thus, the process of the scrunchie painting was born. Based loosely around a grid like form and bold colour, they are painted flat on the ground and then physically crumpled, squashed, and compressed. These works burst forth with confectionary coloured exuberance and sensuality.

Whatever direction Parkes takes in the future, the word ‘trailblazer’ comes to mind. Either large or small, off the wall or walking around a wall, Parke’s artworks offers us a visionary way of seeing and interpreting the contemporary world around us. 

Miranda Parkes graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (distinction) in painting from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 2005. She had her first solo exhibition in 2003 and has since exhibited throughout New Zealand and abroad.Parkes was artist-in-residence at Tylee Cottage, Whanganui, in 2009, and was the William Hodges Fellow in Southland in 2007. She was the 2013 recipient of the Olivia Spencer Bower Foundation Art Award, Christchurch and in 2016 was the Frances Hodgkins Fellow at the University of Otago, Dunedin.