I was pleased to be included in the print and online Artists’ Directory listings for August/September 2018 (issue 84), featuring four works from my Woman series 2018

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In July 2018 I was one of a number of international artists selected for inclusion in the July/August issue of Art International Contemporary magazine, edited by Salvatore Russo, and was awarded the International Prize Giulio Cesare. This was presented at Palazzo Velli, Rome, on 7 July 2018. My painting The Three Graces (from Woman series 2018) was included in the magazine and in the catalogue accompanying the award presentation.

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In June 2018 I was invited by curator Stefania Carrozzini to participate with 7 other international artists in another exhibition at Onishi Project, New York City (14-27 June 2018). Dealing with the Gaze offered the opportunity to consider “the gaze” not only for what it represents in an art work, but – like a mirror – for what it also reflects of the viewer and their opinions and attitudes. Carrozzini commented that “this compilation of works forces us to think of ‘the eye’ as something that writes and describes and that meets, speaks and reflects all worlds, exploring the poetic depth of the self and touching on the territory of the invisible.”

A review in “America Oggi” (New York) noted, “The gaze of Judith Cordeaux, a New Zealand artist, who is showing for the second time in New York, rests on the archaic prehistoric forms of femininity associated with fertility, wondering what the difference is between a feminine gaze and a masculine gaze.”

The paintings selected for this exhibition were Get Over It and The Three Graces, from my Woman series, 2018.

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The first work from my new Woman series to be exhibited was Mama Mortality Corridos 2018, in the Landfall Exhibition held at the Otago Art Society in Dunedin (25 May – 17 June 2018). The OAS joined forces with Otago University Press, to help celebrate the digitization of the first 20 years (1947-68) of issues of Landfall, and to celebrate the connections between the artistic and literary worlds fostered by New Zealand’s pre-eminent literary and art journal. Artists were provided with an issue of the journal (from anywhere in the back catalogue) and invited to find inspiration from within it, creating an artwork in response in a medium of their choice. As with all the submissions, my painting was displayed with a statement discussing the inspiration for the work:

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The name of a collection of poems, Mama Mortality Corridos by Lisa Samuels – advertised by The Holloway Press in Landfall 221 (pg.196) - caught my eye. A search on Google found several reviews and excerpts which gave some clue to the contents. However, it was the title of the book that sparked my imagination.

The Corrido is a popular narrative song or poem. Themes often deal with oppression and injustice. Many have an historical setting. Samuel’s inclusion of the words “Mama” and “Mortality” suggested a story of women, their lives and ultimate demise.

I am intrigued by the tiny, but powerful, figurines of women found on prehistoric sites throughout Europe and Eurasia. They are 11,000 to 35,000 years old. The first of these was discovered in 1864 and described as a Venus Impudica ("immodest Venus"). The collective name “Venus figurines” has stuck. Many archaeologists believe they were used in fertility rites. Other Western theories suggest they could be erotic art or sex aids, or even self-portraits by female artists.

Whatever the original intention, most share a common style: roughly lozenge-shaped and tapering at top and bottom. While the breast, abdomen, buttocks and vulva are often (but not always) exaggerated, the head is usually small or non-existent. Hands and feet are often missing.

For thousands of years, the role of woman was narrowly viewed as being centred on her sexual attraction and her fertility. Her abilities were mostly confined to producing children and caring for a household. Her intellect was not valued – or considered to exist. Her ability to travel independently was restricted by her role as a mother and household caretaker. Her creative abilities were largely concentrated on the domestic arts. She lived, she reproduced and she died, unknown and unrecognised. Sadly, for many women today, not much has changed.

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I was delighted to be selected as a finalist in this year’s Zonta Ashburton Female Art Award (3–31 March 2018), with my work Night and Day 2017 (Unexpected World series). This annual award exhibition presented by The Zonta Club of Ashburton in partnership with the Ashburton Art Gallery showcases the works of emerging and mid-career female artists based in Canterbury. Zonta International strives to empower women worldwide by improving the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional status of women at global and local levels through service and advocacy. This exhibition reflects Zonta’s vision by recognising the artistic accomplishments of women who are actively contributing to and shaping our art scene and creating a bold and diverse future for the arts in Canterbury.

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Floortalk by Judith Cordeaux discussing her thoughts and development as an artist, given during her exhibition "Unexpected World" at the Aigantighe Art Gallery, Timaru, 17 September 2017.

Artist Judith Cordeaux’s response to the Christchurch earthquakes and the new life she has found in Timaru, New Zealand.

Unexpected World, a solo exhibition of 32 works at the Aigantighe Art Gallery,

She explains: 'There are many forces that humans do not, and probably never will, control – hurricanes, landslides, floods, earthquakes. As well as nurturing and supporting us, the earth unleashes forces that destroy and cause chaos. It seems we are never fully prepared for the impact.

Somehow we have to pick ourselves up and start again, sometimes in a radically changed environment. It is seven years this September (2017) since the first of the devastating Christchurch and Canterbury earthquakes struck.

They literally turned my world upside down, and in the following months they destroyed much of what I loved, including my home. Hence the title of the exhibition - "Unexpected World". 'These paintings and drawings depict my initial reactions, and then the aftermath which has had such an unexpected, but really positive, outcome.

Though I know that for many others the struggle with insurers and builders continues, I’ve been able to build a new life. So my new works don’t just talk about the destruction and difficulties.

They also show the unconditional love and kindness given by friends, neighbours and strangers as we all continue to deal with this life-changing situation.'

Unexpected World exhibition – Concert (excerpts), 8 October 2017

Pictures within pictures in artistic compositions

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