Kiya Nancarrow in her Rocky Bay studio. Photos Michelle Barber

Michelle Barber talks to sculptor Kiya Nancarrow about trying to run away to sea and how important rhythm, materials and gut instinct are to creating her eye-catching artworks.

The week before Aotearoa’s lockdown, I visited Kiya Nancarrow in her Rocky Bay studio. I’ve enjoyed Kiya’s work for years and find the fluidity and motion of both the ceramic and steel that she uses to create her pieces intriguing. 

Even though her work has a delicate movement to it, the industrial machinery she uses creates an interesting dichotomy to her process and creativity.

Michelle Barber:  Where did you grow up?

Kiya Nancarrow: Whanganui. My mother had a farm north of Whanganui where we spent every single weekend although we lived in Whanganui township. Eventually mother wanted to move to the farm permanently as her heart was out there and she thought we’d all stay to help her but we all ran for the hills.

I trained as an occupational therapist and a teacher but every weekend I’d go to Welly in my Morris Minor to meet container ships to see if I could work for my passage. I was willing to go anywhere to get away. I finally met a captain of a German ship who said there were two conditions: one, you have to pay $500 in case you’re lazy and, two, you can’t have sex with any of the sailors. We shook on it. 

I then had to wait for the ship to come around New Zealand before I could board. In the interim I told a friend about this and she talked her way onto the ship and took the last berth! It was the first time I experienced betrayal. 

My father felt sorry for me and helped me get to London in the end. Straight away I had work as an occupational therapist. I did that for a long while and also trained as a psychotherapist but at 29 decided I wanted to go to art school, which was the whole reason I left New Zealand. 

Four years of art school and I was in absolute heaven working with ceramics. I went to London for six months and stayed for 20 years. 

Full story in this week’s Gulf New’s… Out Now!!!

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