Jacqueline Fahey talk
Jacqueline Fahey talk
Jacqueline Fahey interviewed by Felicity Milburn at the Christchurch Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, 10 January 2018.
Please note that this presentation is available as audio only.
Jacqueline Fahey Speedy's Return
For the exhibition Jacqueline Fahey: Say Something! (22 November 2017 – 11 March 2018) this work was displayed with the following label:
Fahey’s husband, the noted psychiatrist Fraser McDonald, held positions at a number of institutions throughout New Zealand, and they raised their three daughters in a series of houses on hospital grounds. In Porirua, the gardens were overseen by a patient, Mr Quickly (also known as Speedy), who had studied at Kew Gardens in England and worked on a royal estate. He supplied the family with a steady supply of produce and fresh flowers. Fahey recalled that she could cope with the flowers but that the fruit and vegetables, which he clearly expected her to make into preserves, showed up her shortcomings as a ‘proper’ doctor’s wife. When the family moved to Kingseat Hospital, near Auckland, Mr Quickly came with them. This painting, a study in warm autumnal colours and dappled shadows, celebrates what Fahey described as 'the light he brought into all of our lives'.
Jacqueline Fahey The Portobello Settee
The underlying influence of Dutch Golden Age painting is unmistakable in Jacqueline Fahey’s The Portobello Settee, particularly when seen alongside Gerrit Dou’s The Physician. Similar motifs appear in both works, from draped fabrics and Turkish rugs to books, bowls, windows and repeating circular forms. The small girl’s pose and expression also echo that of the waiting figure in the background of The Physician.Although painted over 300 years apart, both works can also be read as meditations on existence. Dou’s meticulous work considers a lifespan from conception to death, while Fahey’s painting brilliantly assesses the contained disarray of the place and time in which she finds herself; her immediate environment and experience as a mother in early 1970s Aotearoa New Zealand.
(Persistent Encounters, March 2020)
Jacqueline Fahey Mother and daughter quarrelling
“When Mum first told me not to outstrip my sisters, I felt incensed by her lack of understanding, especially when she was so creative herself. She later decreed that I must devote myself to my children and to [my husband] Fraser; I could no longer put myself first. And so it continued, a futile struggle. Deeply disturbing, and very common between mothers and daughters throughout history. Mothers, out of fear, are determined to find meaning in life. Genetic matter is repeated again and again, as suggested by the Persian carpet, which rises up to compete with the genetic matter pulsing out of our heads. In the mirror my more compassionate alter ego watches, appalled at my lack of control.” —Jacqueline Fahey, 2017
A leading figure of Aotearoa’s feminist art movement from the 1970s onward, Allie Eagle found a strong role model in Jacqueline Fahey’s art. She said: “What was exciting about Jacquie’s work was the domestic interior, subverted away from the male-view pleasantries of ‘woman happily domiciled’ into painted rage and honest truth about suburban women’s reality (well… some women’s reality). Her paintings worked powerfully and satisfyingly into the idea of women speaking for and about themselves.”
(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )
Jacqueline Fahey: Say Something!
11 March 2018
Overflowing with love, conflict and quiet despair, Fahey’s paintings from the 1970s bristle with the intensity of domestic life.