From her studio in Christchurch, New Zealand, Nina Cook creates technically exquisite artworks inspired by the people, birdlife, land and sky of Aotearoa (NZ).
Her curiosity and broad psychological and socio-political interests often lead her to communicate intense and psychologically complicated views of her subjects. Nina’s skill at accurately capturing her subject’s true spirit and her high degree of technical accomplishment have been recognized and demand for portrait commissions is growing following exhibitions in commercial galleries.
My work is often about identity, both personal and cultural, and influenced by environmental, sociological and spiritual issues.
I see beauty everywhere, including places many people prefer not to look. I see ugly everywhere – including the places many people look to for beauty. In order to make my work accessible, I aspire to balance the figurative and the emotional. Whilst I believe generalisation is both lazy and dangerous to the individual, the force of popular culture and the fantastic visual signposts it provides, feature often in my work. I am fascinated by, and slightly suspicious of, the processes through which people filter sensory information in order to gain emotional understanding. To this end I try to create images and objects that cause people to expand and/or re-think their world view. My awe and love of nature is artistic, scientific and spiritual. My work celebrates the fact that our understanding of nature is so tiny – from particles and molecules to the universe and beyond – that we are so small, so passionate… so full of potential.
Nina Cook was born in Whakatane in 1967.
She was educated at Wanganui High School, subsequently studying at Christchurch Polytechnic School of Art and Design where she received a Bachelor of Design. Until gaining her degree Nina Cook was largely self-taught. She has mastered many media, through studying books, taking classes, and networking with and gaining inspiration from other artists. During this time, she has increasingly received commissions by word-of–mouth. After graduating, Nina Cook was invited to teach drawing at the Christchurch Polytechnic School of Art and Design and taught both there (figure and general drawing), and at Natcoll Design Technology (drawing, art history and design history) for three years. During this time she also worked as a Graphic Designer and illustrated several children’s books. Eventually she made the decision to focus on her art practice, and in 2007 Nina established the studio from which she currently works in Christchurch. Go to Radio New Zealand, Arts on Sunday, 21st September 2008 at 2.50pm, to hear Lynn Freeman interviewing Nina Cook regarding her exhibition, Strong Migrational Tendencies, at the COCA gallery.