Elspeth Shannon


Born in 1954, Paekakariki based artist Elspeth Shannon holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) from Massey University.

The artist's most recent works have focussed on the process of painting, with the image being secondary to the making. Paintings are begun as a chance process, with loose bold applications of paint and inks. Gradually, through building, destroying and painting over with more deliberate mark making, an underlying order begins to emerge, and the paintings start to suggest forms of plants or animals. 

In earlier works, a recurring theme is the connections between humans and other animals. “I’m intrigued by how their eyes and body language tell us so much, and am convinced they know more than we credit them with.” A variety of relationships and emotions are skillfully conveyed in Elspeth’s works; love, loyalty, vulnerability and dependency all part of the delicate web of interconnectedness between humans and the animals we keep.

Other earlier paintings have the appearance of old fashioned photographs, not formally composed portraits but instants caught as if in a quick photographic snap. Still others play with the effects of freeze frame photography; what happens when the action is slowed down. “I’ve viewed hundreds of snap shots of footage and am interested in the tension that develops from the juxtaposition of the recognizable and the abstract."