Sofia Minson’s artwork aims to build understanding, respect and friendship between cultures. Born in Auckland in 1984, Sofia’s father worked as a civil engineer, work which took him and his family around the world. Sofia spent her childhood in Samoa, Sri Lanka and China and returned to New Zealand as a teenager. It’s this mix of cultures and her mixed heritage which has inspired and informed her distinctive, award-winning artwork.
“Because I have a mixed heritage, I have Ngāti Porou (Māori), Swedish, English and Irish heritage, I was always curious about where I belong. That’s developed into an interest in how these fit together and how I can incorporate these mixed ancestors into something which makes sense now,” she says.
This is most evident in her beautiful portraits; proud Maori ancestors with moko are dressed in European Victorian style clothes and Egyptian symbols are seen beside Maori ones.
“Living overseas a lot has had a major thematic influence on my work. I was constantly introduced to new cultures and different symbols. But being on this land – New Zealand – means my art is really tied to this place.”
The Navigators is Sofia’s latest large-scale series. They were created together over the last year in her Auckland studio, though she notes that; “these ideas have been brewing my whole life.”
The large artworks continue to celebrate a mix of cultures, this time through the ‘hero’s journey’, a concept which is shared by many cultures.
“The ‘hero’s journey’ is a strong running theme in The Navigators. It’s a theme which runs through all cultures. It’s about the hero facing their fears, delving into the underworld and facing their daemons to return with knowledge, light and insight from our ancestors.”
“When I finish painting a work I look at it like you would a dream. I find symbols that have bubbled out of my subconscious and I write stories or ‘myths’ about each painting. Ancestors and ideas from the past link with the present. This is how I listen to my Higher Self and it helps me navigate.”
From a mix of cultures, to mixed media, it is fitting that Sofia Minson’s art is created with both traditional and modern media. Sofia is highly skilled in acrylic and oil painting and has recently introduced flashe (an ink-like black paint) to her atelier favourites.
The Navigators also displays Sofia’s experimentation with digital/analogue techniques.
"I have taken hand-painted forms in my work like portraits, birds and animals and I've digitally placed them in a fresh context so they take on new meaning. Using technology I've created symmetries or repeating mandala patterns.”
Sofia then prints the new images onto canvas and alters them by hand with acrylic and flashe paints. The result is a delicious blend of old and new.
Discover The Navigators at Artbay Exclusive Exhibitions, Marine Parade, Level 1, Eichardt's Building, Queenstown. An official exhibition opening will be held on Thursday 15th February, 5:30pm – 7pm, with a short artist documentary screening at 6:15pm.
You can see more of Sofia Minson’s artworks here.