Resident artist Julia Holden is about to undertake an unusual project - a live painting performance.

Assistant curator Jessica Kidd will be transformed into a painted version of the Yvonne Todd portrait Maven Fuller which is currently on display at Sarjeant on the Quay. The performance will be live-streamed via Facebook and occur in front of an invited audience.

Current Tylee Cottage artist-in-residence Julia Holden is known for her performance painting portraits which at once challenge and pay homage to the tradition of portrait painting Using people as her canvas, Holden clothes her models in bespoke costumes, clay moulded hairstyles and layers of paint to create a dynamic work of art. Her portraits incorporate elements of performance, painting and photography.

"The subjects of these portraits are taken from painted works and photographs. They exist in reality only long enough to photograph and film and then the dripping paint is washed away. The photographic portrait is all that remains of the process.


"The portrait work for me is a true collaboration between myself and the person who is acting as my living canvas, be that person an artist or someone in the community," she said.

"There is a dialogue and an intimacy which comes about as a result of creating the work because it is based on the conversation and the trust that develops. It is a collaboration in a really true sense in that they are an active part of the portrait.

"The actual painting happens fairly quickly both because I don't want my subject to be under the paint too long but also because I am looking to capture a very fresh, wet, immediate and visceral outcome.

"I'm really interested in the conversation that happens between artists across time.

"Looking at works that have already been filtered through the mind of another artist is really interesting to me and it feels like I'm in a direct conversation with them as I make the work.

"It gives me the excuse to look deeply into a work that I might feel very drawn too and that the subject also has a connection to."

Holden's Tylee Cottage residency coincides with the 125-year anniversary of women's suffrage and the exhibition 125: Celebrating Women from the Collection is currently on display at Sarjeant on the Quay.

In honour of this occasion, Holden has selected several portraits from this collection exhibition to paint, including Ann Verdcourt's Wartime Wendy and Edith Collier's Cornish Woman of Spanish Descent.


Holden has invited volunteers from the Whanganui Community to be the living canvases for these portraits.

Curator and public programmes manager Greg Donson says: "Julia Holden's work is an extraordinary cross pollination of painting, performance and photography."