Elizabeth Thomson

Elizabeth Thomson (b. 1955, Auckland, Aotearoa) is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s foremost visual artists, working primarily in the mediums of sculpture and installation. Over the past three decades, Thomson has developed a remarkable oeuvre working across large-scale installations and exquisitely crafted small sculptural works in which she explores the complex visual interplay between art and science.

In 2011 Elizabeth Thomson was one of nine artists invited to participate in an expedition aboard HMNZS Otago bound for the Kermadecs. The immediate sensory experience of the expansive and pristine-blue Pacific ocean during this journey became the catalyst for a potent new body of work exploring colour, materiality and depth. The subsequent exhibition, Kermadec, toured for a number of years throughout major venues in NZ, Tonga, Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Santiago, Chile and the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia.

Thomson has an extensive exhibition history and her work is held in major national and international collections including Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand (Wellington), Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tāmaki (Auckland), The Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Australian National Gallery (Canberra), Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane). The solo exhibition Elizabeth Thompson: Cellular Memory has been touring Aotearoa New Zealand since first opening at Aratoi, Masterton with a richly illustrated companion publication. In 2019 a major new exhibition at the Govett Brewster ‘Waking Up Slowly’ bought together Thomson’s work with internationally acclaimed New Zealand artist Len Lye.

Waking Up Slowly: Elizabeth Thomson and Len Lye 2019, installation view, Gallery 5 at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre. Photography: Sam Hartnett