Dr. Cathie Koa Dunsford – Artist

Cath Koa Dunsford has immersed herself in the arts all her life [see her Arts and Publications Curriculum Vitae]. She was one of two winners in the Auckland Schools Art Competition. This was her first Visual Arts Award. She has spent much of her life encouraging other artists and writing 23 books which have been translated/published internationally, many of which include her art.In between writing books and touring for publishers in Europe, the UK, USA, Canada and the Pacific, teaching Writing and Publishing Courses at Auckland University and running Dunsford Publishing Consultants, which has brought 197 authors into publication internationally over the past thirty years, Cath Koa Dunsford has also managed to exhibit and sell her paintings, woodcuts and ceramics at several galleries. These include Art By the Sea - Devonport, Manaia Gallery - Whangarei, Arts Desire Gallery – Warkworth, A Fine Line Gallery, Matakana and the celebrated Waterfront Gallery in Stromness, Orkney as well as the Ocenaic Centre for Pacific Art, USP, Fiji. Her donated woodcuts reached high prices at the Malawi Auction in Orkney to support the building of a church and school in Malawi.

She has been finalist in two major National Ceramic Awards run by the National Bank and Art by the Sea Gallery in conjunction with the Devonport Festival of Arts, being awarded alongside well established artists. Her pit-fired ceramic sculpture, Whekiponga Dreaming, was a Finalist in the 1996 Ceramic Awards alongside pieces by Rick Rudd, Sam Ireland, Brian Gartside and Belinda Patton. Whekiponga Dreaming was a hand-sculpted, burnished pit fired vase, with a raised black tree fern or Mamaku design shooting dramatically up its side. The work was highly commended by the judges. Her second major ceramic work, which was judged finalist by renowned Ceramic Artist, Peter Lange, was a kiln-fired piece : "RIP Moruroa" featuring a sculptured turtle and sea creatures exploded in the kiln with a RIP pit-fired tombstone dedicated to all the victims of over 150 nuclear explosions at Moruroa Atoll. This was exhibited in the Finalists Exhibition for the Annual National Ceramics competition. Cathie Dunsford has also had her work published in Art New Zealand.

The Dunedin Public Art Gallery exhibited four of Dunsford’s pen and ink drawings from the Earth, Air, Fire and Water Hawai’i-Aotearoa Mandala series, in a major national exhibition, I am: Ko Ahau, which was highly praised by critics. The exhibition ran from Oct 14-Dec 4, 1992.

In 1994, Australia Post commissioned Cathie Dunsford to design a poster for the International Feminist Bookfair held at the Grand Exhibition Hall in Melbourne and attracting authors from all over the world. This featured a modern expression of ancient Maori and Hawai’ian rock drawings collected from Dunsford’s own research into ancient caves in her ancestral homes of Hawai’i and Aotearoa. The poster was framed, exhibited and sold out at the festival. Her first novel, Cowrie, was launched by Booker Prize Winning author, Keri Hulme, at this festival and went on to spawn a series of award winning books which have been translated and published overseas.

The Auckland Library Heritage Trust invited Dr. Dunsford to submit a limited edition woodcut print on hand-made flax paper, Wetapunga 3/20, and a signed first edition of her novel Cowrie with her ki’i pohaku illustrations for their auction to benefit the conservation of books and prints, 1997, [Catalogue: 118] alongside works by Nigel Brown, Dick Frizzel, Witi Ihimaera, Keri Hulme, Patricia Grace, Albert Wendt,et al.

Starfish Enterprise has been selling Cath’s woodcuts internationally for the past three decades and they were also chosen by the German publisher, Dr. Sigrid Markmann at OBEMA, the University of Osnabrueck Press, as the cover for Survivors: Uberlebende, a bilingual collection of poetry published in 1990 with the entire print run being sold out soon after. Her woodcuts were selected for the hardback German edition of Kia Kaha Cowrie, published by Rogner and Bernhard, Hamburg, in 1998 and her art commissioned for the German edition of Manawa Toa [2003] both of which books sold out after European book tours by the author and her translator. Later, the paperback German edition of Lied der Selkies featured drawings especially commissioned by the Publisher, Christel Goettert Verlag.

Spinifex Press, Australia, chose woodcuts by Dunsford for the covers of Manawa Toa [2000] and Ao Toa [2008] and her art as chapter titles throughout Cowrie [1994] and Te Haerenga Kainga [1996]. All these books have been displayed and featured at the Frankfurt Bookfair, the largest international bookfair in the world. Dunsford’s woodcuts and paintings have also appeared on bags, fliers, posters and T-shirts promoting the books globally and in art and literary periodicals like Hecate – University of Queensland Press. Her indigenous art has also appeared in Writing the Pacific, edited by Kavita Nandan, et al, for the University of South Pacific Press, 2007.

Cathie Dunsford has exhibited and sold her woodcuts and paintings at several Sing Aotearoa Festivals during the 1990’s in exhibitons with photographers like Craig Potton and master carvers of original Maori koauau and other traditional instruments like Brian Flintoff. She has performed in public concerts, composing a score from her published writing which worked with koauau, putorino, putatara, gourds, nose flutes and other traditional Maori instruments, with Richard Nunns [Ku Te Whe], which opened the Sing Aotearoa Festival. She has also studied and taken practical courses in bone carving under master carver James [Hemi] Taranaki, whose work is exhibited and sold internationally.

Global Dialogues Press commissioned a painting from Dunsford for the cover of a hand-numbered and signed limited edition: Return of the Selkies, 2007 and a waka woodcut for the cover of Talkstory – The Art of Listening, featuring work by professors and authors in Canada, Berlin, Stromness and Aotearoa, published in 2007. In 2010, Cath Koa was Keynote Speaker at the International Oceanic Conference on Creativity and Climate Change, University of the South Pacific, and an exhibition of her art, Kaitikiakitanga, featured alongside other Pacific Artists, and was introduced by Vilisoni Hereniko. Cathie Koa Dunsford draws from her rich heritage in all her chosen art media and believes that art has the potential to help heal the planet. She chooses to use sustainable and natural ecological products and processes in her art where possible.