Cat Auburn to do PhD in UK

17 April 2019

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 Artist fame. We are helping her raise funds for this by selling two significant works from her personal collection.

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.

“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,” she says.

The works we are now selling from earlier in Auburn's career also do 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 in Uncanny Valley 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.

We are delighted to have already sold one of the two works to a New Zealand collector and arts patron. A percentage of the sales is being donated to Auburn’s favourite charity Te Omanga Hospice.

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.


Email us if you are interested in supporting Cat's PhD: