The words on this page, Shields & Persephone, are taken from:
Essay: Unruly Practices
Alexa M. Johnston
Claudia Pond Eyley: Survey Exhibition, 1993
Auckland City Art Gallery
“It was in 1980, when having painted “professionally” for ten years that I started to use my home environment as the subject of my work”.
This is Claudia Pond Eyley writing in 1984, and the inverted commas she uses around the word “professional” are significant. The divide between the professional and the personal, between the intimate and the acceptable, in art practice, was one that feminist artist in the 1970’s and 1980’s were determined to challenge.
To invoke experiences, emotions, hopes and fears that were particular to them. And to their lives as women was a political statement, asserting that these were important enough to be the substance of significant art. “Unruly Practices 2" provides a brief survey of Pond Eyley’s development of this personal theme.
The landscape that Claudia Pond Eyley returned to most often in the 1980’s was her own garden in the Auckland suburb of Mount Eden, an environment she created and tended herself. In those paintings her earlier abstract explorations of colour relationships were put to work creating optical vibration through the use of complimentary colours. The lush foliage seems to vibrate with life, to shimmer in the heat and to celebrate its own growth and vigour. In many of these garden works Maungawhau (Mount Eden), ancient pa site and guardian of the area, is a looming presence.
Pond Eyley sets this powerful landform with its terraced reminders of earlier inhabitants alongside the more transient liveliness of the domestic garden and asserts the wholeness and continuity of nature. In the more recent work “Spirit Garden” 1991, painted after traveling to Asia, Pond Eyley describes the stillness and the quiet beauty of meditation gardens.