This year on the 10th & 11th of June over 70 artists around Taranaki, New Zealand opened their studios to visitors.

I love the idea of giving people interested in the artistic process access to the studio and insight into each artists individual process of creation. For me making work is a reflective and personal experience in which I have to reach a kind of meditative state. My studio is a very private space and needs to be so to ensure I continually perform up to my own expectations.

For a few days each year it’s a welcome change to open my doors and feel the energy and interest of art lovers who come from all over the country to discover how artists live and work in this region of New Zealand. This weekend around 200 people visited and I'd like to thank each of them for choosing my studio and sharing their thoughts on the progression of the work with me.

Fern Petrie's Taranaki Studio 2017

Recently I was lucky enough to acquire a collection of stunning handmade leaves from Taranaki artist Linda McFetridge. They sat sprinkled on my shelf as if autumn had intruded inside the house while I considered how best to display them.

At the moment my paintings all reference bell jars. I am drawn to the idea of compulsive collection, of an obsessive need to shield an object from the ravages of time and suspend it in a state of limbo.

I decided to make two bell jars taking the kōrari or flower stalk of the harakeke and painstakingly gluing each leaf to this trunk to form the semblance of a living tree. I like the fact that something organic and something man made have come together to form a new creation; a creation which will never rot or fade but will stay fixed as a reminder of this place and time forever.

Above I have added a photo of two other bell jars I made years ago to commemorate my marriage. Inside each iridescent butterflies flutter over the hand made flowers we commissioned for the church.