Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Misery’s natural flare for art runs four generations deep. Known more for her character based works that are fun and magical but sprinkled with a touch of dark humor, her first outdoor works were graffiti-based, and her name gifted to her by Askew One in 1997. Misery’s growth of her characters and worlds, which all live in ‘Miseryland’, are strongly influenced by both her personal Asian and Pacific art experiences, and has made her an individual strong-hold amongst her loyal and forever growing followers. Both known locally and internationally, she is one of the Pacific region’s most well known female urban contemporary artists to date.
Damo: What does it mean to you to be part of Post-Graffiti Pacific?
Misery: It feels like a really exciting time. All of the artists involved in PGP are friends and artists that I have painted and grown up with. We all started out doing graffiti which formed the path to where we’re at today. For a long time I’ve have felt like there hasn’t been a place or genre for the kind of artwork I make. I either get labeled a street artist or pop artist which I feel I’m not really either. Post-Graffiti Pacific is identifying us as contemporary artists from graffiti backgrounds, marking a time and place. It celebrates a unique family of artists from Oceania Asia/Pacific.
Damo: Can you talk us through your piece, and how you responded to the brief from conception to finalisation?
Misery: There wasn’t really a defined brief for the exhibition. It was more about showcasing who we are as PGP artists. My artworks are quite fantasy based and usually have some kind of fairytale narrative running through them. I can feel restricted if I put too much pressure around the initial concept or greater meaning of the body of work so I try not to do that so much. With these paintings I wanted to make images about nature, magic, rituals, folklore and belonging.
Damo: How do you define street art? Has your inclusion in Post-Graffiti Pacific changed your view on this?
Misery: I don’t think so. I think the term street art is used quite generally. I immediately think of stencil art, paste ups and art students being outrageous but maybe that is just my attitude from growing up in Auckland – I think a lot of people label any painting in public as street art if it’s not a tag or letters. My strength has always been characters, I’ve always felt more comfortable going out with a brush and bottle of ink than cans which is why I maybe get called a street artist. I feel lucky to have started out when I did – when every one was crazy about graffiti obsessed with getting up and so driven. I think that attitude has stuck with me always. I am happy we have a title to define the genre of art we art a part of.
Damo: How does it feel to be included in an exhibition among several of your contemporaries? Did this influence you in any way?
Misery: I feel immensely proud to be showcasing my paintings with these guys. I admire all of them as great artists and great humans and am constantly inspired by their work. We are a tight and supportive crew and it’s a wonderful feeling to be apart of that. It feels like the beginning of great and exciting things to come. Ambush Gallery and Olivia Laita Gallery have done an incredible job presenting our first exhibition.