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 ouevre working across large scale installations and exquisitely crafted small sculptural works in which she explores the complex visual interplay between art and science. Specifically referencing biology and physics, Thomson’s work investigates the representation of scientific knowledge in visual form, drawing on languages of pattern and abstraction, harmony and rupture, analogy and rhythm.
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). In 2006 she was the subject of a major survey exhibition Elizabeth Thomson: My Hi-Fi My Sci-Fi that opened at Wellington’s City Gallery before touring nationally. In 2014 she exhibited hundreds of flocked bronze moths in an ambitious installation, An Invitation to Openness – Substantive and Transitive States, at the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt and at the Tauranga Art Gallery in 2015. The solo exhibition Elizabeth Thomson: Cellular Memory has been touring Aotearoa New Zealand since first opening at Aratoi, Masterton in 2017, with a richly illustrated companion publication. In 2019 a major new exhibition at the Govett Brewster Waking Up Slowly brought together Thomson’s work with internationally acclaimed New Zealand artist Len Lye.