Di ffrench

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1946, d.1999

The Life Drawing Class

  • 1990
  • Cibachrome
  • Purchased 1991
  • 960 x 1150mm
  • 91/9

In 1990, Di ffrench undertook a residency at The Arts Centre in Ōtautahi Christchurch, working in a studio previously used as Canterbury College’s life-drawing room. There, generations of artists had learned to understand and represent anatomy. Instruction reflected attitudes inherited from Europe, so female models were typically presented as beautiful and passive, while male models assumed heroic, active poses. Di disrupted these dated stereotypes by depicting her female figure in a strong pose borrowed from the kata of Japanese martial arts. Hinting at how attitudes influence our view of history and gender, she created a shifting and layered work by projecting manipulated photographs onto coal dust and then re-photographing and colouring them.

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History