Bonnie Somerville – Artist statement

I don’t work in response to a strategy or system, which would provide a structure or starting point. I work intuitively and am process driven; each layer of paint I apply is in response to the last layer applied.  I am not interested in concepts, subject matter or themes, preferring technical and painterly aspects.

Of great importance is the physicality of the painted gesture. Mark making techniques and formal painterly concerns are important in my work. I am concerned with deliberate and less controlled paint application. One method is conscious mark making, whereby I am deliberate and in close proximity. The other is less controlled and more at a distance, by pouring and dribbling. This process of painting feels like being engaged and detached from it.

I pour and drip paint, which I can manipulate until it has dried, however there is still a fair amount of chance involve, it can’t be totally controlled. This gives exciting results and it ignites thought and the imagination.

Conscious mark making without being recognisably representational is an important contrast to the gestural pain application. These contrasts are important in my work. I like the push and pull of deliberate and chance.

Just like the process of creating each individual painting one layer responding to the previous layer, so I also create the next painting. One painting is usually a response to the previous.

There is ruthlessness to the whole process of layering whereby I select and delete, and at times I “throw out the baby with the bathwater”. However the liberating feeling this creates when the next layer completes the work is exceptional.


2007 – Masters of Fine Arts, Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University

2005 – Bachelor of Fine Arts, Whitecliffe College of Art and Design, Auckland.

1999 – Diploma of Pharmacy, Central Institute of Technology, Trentham