It was great to see painter Jacqueline Fahey named as one of the new batch of 'Icons' announced by the New Zealand Arts Foundation.
Limited to a circle of twenty living artists at any one time, the Icon Award/ Whakamana Hiranga is the Foundation's highest honour and recognises senior New Zealand artists for their extraordinary achievements. The other Icons named in this round were singer Kiri Te Kanawa, film-maker Geoff Murphy, artist/arts educator Cliff Whiting and architect Ian Athfield.
Fahey, a celebrated artist who has also written two novels and a two-volume memoir, is represented by two works in Christchurch Art Gallery's collection. The fragmented composition of Mother and daughter quarrelling (1977) suggests the divisions that arose between two generations of women (symbolised by the artist and her mother) during the early years of the women's liberation movement. Fahey was one of the first New Zealand artists to paint from a feminist perspective, saying: 'Art should come from what an artist knows about life, and if what a woman knows is not what a man knows, then her art is going to have to be different.'
On a personal note, I loved how Fahey, a prolific, perceptive and irascibly irreverent painter of self-portraits, managed to thoroughly upstage even Kiri in the official photo (she's second from the right).