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Fine artist Tabitha Maxwell aka TAMAASA, chooses to work under her younger sister's childhood nickname for her, in Auckland where she resides with her young son.  Since graduation from Whitecliffe College of Art and design in 2007 she has worked full time in the creative sector.


Born into a highly creative family in New Zealand, she first put paint to walls and canvases in her teens, spending her early years of creativity living abroad in London before studying both fine arts and fashion design.

The easily recognisable style of TAMAASA has been sold and exhibited, as both a fine art, and street art and fashion collaborations for over twenty years now in New Zealand and abroad, depicting gorgeous aboriginal faces, native fauna and wildlife infused into surrealist fantastical imagery, with her recognisable neon and black contrasts being a backdrop in digital, fine art and graphic works on steel, wood, wall, paper and digital reproductions.

Industrial and feminine, there is a romantic darkness and bright magic found in each piece created, and the drawing of spiritual, mythical and legendary symbolism can be found in many pieces, from her highly detailed portraiture, to her mythical wildlife imagery. Each piece depicts and tells a story, often connecting worlds and myths, or exploring ecological values, and ancestral stories.

Her work can be found in private collections both in New Zealand, and abroad in London, Australia and the United States.


Art is a lie, that makes us realise the truth.

- Pablo Picasso


I always want my artwork to sit between the two parodies in life of extreme branding and socio economic discussions, constantly challenging itself, and questioning it's importance. There is an irony found interweaving through my imagery, where I sit really beautifully in the branded, high end range of conversation sitting in fine art, but I use my pieces to interweave some very real discussions about things that are happening in the world, the discussions that society generally shy's away from, and I think my life as an artist really perfectly portraits that in a way.

And it is so easy to miss too which is what I find so interesting about it.


So for instance we ignore domestic violence on a massive scale globally, but yet Louis Vuitton is the latest conversation piece…And I get it you know because my nature as an artist is to inherently be drawn to really beautiful stuff, to create really beautiful pieces, I mean it isn't something I control, it is my nature to admire beauty, but the irony of that conversation is so huge there needs to be a connection for me. So for me it becomes about playing the parody against itself, and using both forms as a way of ironically portraying the very beautiful connection between all things glamorous and branded, and the very real constant conversations we should be having as a humanity.


How does that fit with Wairua? Well Wairua in New Zealand is a spiritual element found in our culture, it is about the spirit and the heart of anything. So when I connect this is generally the way I connect to a subject or a conversation as a starting point. I paint these stunning native birds, or portraits of amazing faces, or even landscapes, and they are  in my mind very connected through Wairua, they have spirit, they have mana, they are so connected to their roots, and nature, and the spirit, but they are also so darn beautiful just because of their story. Birds have such a strong connection to the spiritual world here, and I love that. I love the beauty that can be found in the symbolism, I love the beauty that can be found in the physical beauty, and the spiritual beauty and I also love the conversation that it starts to discuss around socio economic issues that we have such as connecting to your spirit world for protection from all of the harshness of the world, poverty, homelessness and more. I love looking into the lines carved on a face because it represents the Wairua or the spirit of that persons travels, their journey, the hardness of exchange, what have they been through in life to develop those lines? Because man life can get hard…but again I am awe struck by the beauty, I want to push myself more as an artist to capture that beauty, the physicality of it, the rawness, the realism, and when you are portraying both its sitting again between something that is really very beautiful but also very real at the same time, the connection can always be found, there is always going to be a full life circle with something that is living, with time restraints, and pain, and realness, there is no avoiding it. So again I am stuck in that irony between finding beauty but also discussing real deep true shit that is a factor in our everyday lives, you can’t capture a line or a mark or wrinkle on someones face in true beauty, without recognising the reality of pain that might have caused that wrinkle…But yet the beauty is in the pain so to speak, the pain has created the beauty, and also the joy.


You can’t capture the beauty and spirit of a bird who symbolises a connection to the afterlife, without recognising the afterlife. Much the same as you can’t create a really glamorous high end, branded artwork, something you want people to adore because you adore it, without also recognising the ugliness of that, the ugliness of self promotion, and beauty when there is so much homelessness and war and domestic violence going on in the world. So again it is about the fact that the two parodies have to co exist in order to keep each other balanced so to speak. Without one the other wouldn’t be balanced. And I like that, so I hope people see that and can take away from it, oh wow that is so beautiful and so connected to spirit, but also kind of sad, but the sadness in a way has created the beauty, so it has come full circle.


And again the madness of mass branding is huge, it causes mass destruction, but you know without beautiful things in life, without people respecting beauty, and enjoying beauty, where would we be? And where do you stop, So there has to be a respect there is all I am saying, somewhere that it sits perfectly in between the two worlds, and that is I guess where my artwork hopefully sits, while playfully adding ironic touches because it is the real issues in life, my passion for really engaging in society, the real journey which is capturing my attention in the first place, and that also pushes me to seek out and depict that beauty, and to share it. To screen and create emotion in my work.

I love that play always between a friction. Industrialism, feminine imagery. Always a opposing view which perfectly balances itself against the other.

I hope you enjoy the journey with me. Let's have real conversations, and be real people, and just enjoy the hell out of the ride.


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