Kate Newby:
Small Gestures

The work of acclaimed New Zealand artist Kate Newby
wrings poetry from the quotidian – while remapping the
places where art and life intersect.

FEATURE by neha kale FEBRUARY 2020

For Kate Newby, the most meaningful encounters with art don’t have to unfold inside a gallery. They can exist in the space between the self and the world. A few hours before we speak, the New Zealand-born artist, 40, arrived in Los Angeles from Te Henga or Bethells Beach – the coastal North Island community where she spent most of her childhood. It was like she’d never visited before.

“It was amazing to be back as I hadn’t been there for so long – it was so nice to see it with fresh eyes,” says Newby, who (mostly) lives in Brooklyn. She’s bright and thoughtful, prone to sincere and plainspoken sentiments – much like the art for which she is renowned. “I grew up near a lake, near dunes with black sand.” Her voice grows quieter, more reflective. “There was so much organic intensity.”

Newby makes sculptures, installations and interventions. But art-world parlance, with all its loaded history, doesn’t quite capture the way her work sparks subtle shifts in perception that can knock the viewer sideways. Or the little bubbles it creates on the surface of reality, tiny ruptures that help you see the world more clearly – or alter what you think you know.

The artist has installed concrete rocks that double as seats at Fort Greene Park and hired abseilers to string red rope along the roof of a building on Redcliff Street in Welsh Back, Bristol. She’s made blown-glass bags in collaboration with a Texas glassblower in Marfa. Later, she suspended these delicate, glimmering objects from the ceiling . .. Subscribe to read this article in full