Emma Fitts

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1979

Blouse and Trousers for Olivia Spencer Bower

  • 2014
  • Silk
  • On loan from the Olivia Spencer Bower Foundation Award
  • 7700 x 900mm
  • L02/2016

Resembling garments in preparation, lifted from the tailor’s cutting-room table and now fixed in perpetuity, Emma Fitts here pays tribute to a significant local artist of an earlier generation. Blouse and Trousers for Olivia Spencer Bower belongs to a series of abstract cloth collages that memorialise women whose lives and work Emma has admired, and speaks to memory as well as ongoing impact. The connection is particularly strong in this work: an Ilam School of Fine Arts and Glasgow School of Art graduate, she returned to Aotearoa New Zealand to take up the Olivia Spencer Bower Foundation Award in 2014.

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

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • A homage to the Canterbury artist Olivia Spencer Bower, this silk banner is also a proposed outfit for the artist. It was included in Fitts’ 2015 exhibition ‘Fit-out for Olivia Spencer Bower’ in which she transposed the layout of the artist’s home into the Ilam School of Fine Arts Gallery, presenting a series of fabric banners hung from the existing architecture of the gallery. The show marked the culmination of Fitts’ time as the Olivia Spencer Bower Foundation’s artist-in-residence, and ‘touch[ed] upon questions about contemporary New Zealand art’s inability to consider the wider picture of its culture, art history and lineage’. Fitts has also made similar works referencing other artists and significant figures, which have included bomber jackets for the New Zealand politician and feminist activist Marilyn Waring and Marjorie Jewel (Marlow) Moss, a British Constructivist artist.

    Born in Ashburton, Emma Fitts completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) at the University of Canterbury in 2002 and a Master of Fine Art from the Glasgow School of Art in 2010. Based in the UK since 2009, Fitts returned to Christchurch as the Olivia Spencer Bower awardee for 2014. She has participated in exhibitions and residencies nationally and internationally, both as an individual and as part of the collaborations Fitts & Holderness and Victor & Hester.