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Maisie Chilton: Parenthood, painting, and puku.

2021 Springboarder, artist, poet, teacher and parent Maisie Chilton often makes work exploring a range of personal experiences, centred around identity and self – disabilities, repressed trauma, and now: parenthood. We caught up with Maisie ahead of her latest exhibition Full Moon Puku, opening tomorrow afternoon in Wellington.

Kia ora Maisie! Tell us about Full Moon Puku.

Full Moon Puku is a series of oil paintings reflecting my experience of becoming a parent. The hardest part I found about becoming a mum has been feeling like the person I used to be doesn’t exist anymore. It’s true that you change when you have a baby and often it’s in positive ways, but there’s still a lot of grief in the loss of who you used to be. It’s also very isolating out in the bush where we live so using paint as a mode to express that was a natural response for me.

How have you found balancing parenting and an art practice?

Being a parent and artist is a big adjustment. My daughter is a barnacle baby so it’s basically impossible for me to ever get in the flow. I just had to adjust and get used to working in small bursts. I actually think that’s had a positive impact on my work because I spend more time looking before I act.

How has your Springboarder mentorship with 2014 New Generation recipient Star Gossage and connection with 2021 Laureate Nina Nawalowalo impacted your practice?

Star was such an appropriate mentor because she made her career whilst being a mum and that was really encouraging to me. She’s also been really helpful for developing my process and techniques.

I met Nina at an Arts Foundation event which is part of the power of the arts foundation, it fosters community. She’s a real champion of women and mothers. I’m so grateful of the way she’s offered up her space to give me a platform to show work.

See Full Moon Puku tomorrow 2pm at The Conch, Oriental Bay Wellington.

You can also watch the video one year on from Maisie’s Springboard award, in conversation with mentor 2014 New Generation recipient Star Gossage.