Ngahina Belton-Bodsworth, (b. 1993 Nelson, New Zealand) is a Māori/New Zealand painter based in Ōtepoti, Dunedin. Her multi-media paintings explore displacement and trauma using surreal techniques, dynamic color pallets and the visual relationship between interior and exterior. As a child she attended a Māori total-immersion school till the age of 11, where she developed a foundational appreciation for the arts and traditions of her people. This grew into recognizing the immense importance of connecting to one’s culture and its place in the contemporary world. At the age of 13, Belton-Bodsworth and her family moved from small town Otaki, NZ to Melbourne, Australia. This change in environment and culture is something explored in her art today, unpacking two drastically different relationships shown locally towards indigenous and other cultures, and feelings of safety and security that came, or did not come with this. In Melbourne she completed her high school education, fortunate enough to attend the creative art-focused Sandringham college, where she was able to partake in tertiary level art qualifications and exhibit in local galleries. Upon graduation in 2010, after receiving The Excellence of Drawing Award and The Academic Excellence in Art Award, Belton-Bodsworth focused on travel, exploring other cultures and places. This remained a core focus for much of the next decade, living and traveling all over the world. Despite art and creativity taking something of a backseat during this time, it still remained part of her dream. In 2015, while living in Byron Bay, NSW, she completed her first year of Bachelor of Visual Art at the Southern Cross University in Lismore. This restoked her passion for art, but also confirmed for her the need to explore more and feed her inspiration. Not long after this she flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and began a career as deckhand on superyachts. This took her further around the world and revealed a glimpse into the life of the mega-wealthy. Although this lifestyle and career came with many perks and adventures, in 2018 she left, realizing her need for more depth and meaning in where she put her time and energy. Growing up near the sea, her life has always revolved around the ocean. Surfing from a young age, Surf Life Saving duties and competitions, swimming and diving, and of course life on board yachts. Naturally a passion for environmental conservation and sustainability developed. In 2019, Belton-Bodsworth volunteered as a deckhand onboards The Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace. She boarded in Barcelona, Spain, assisting in actions, informative open boats for the public and general crewing duties onboard, as they sailed around Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. This fed her love for both the ocean and adventure, and inspired much of the scenery that emerges in her paintings today. Not long after this she flew back home to New Zealand, settling there for the first time in 13 years. Ngahina Belton-Bodsworth completed her Bachelor of Visual Arts with distinction in 2021, at the Dunedin School of Art. She is now a full-time practicing artist.
My practice explores personal trauma and displacement as a bicultural artist through the practice of mixed media painting. Using abstract methods with intuitive application, I intend to create tension between a gestural expression and realistic representation. I include surrealist methodologies and personal iconography to explore my own inner world, pulling from memories and feelings to create a chaotic and multi-dimensional narrative around the figure and constructed environments. It is important to me to reference an amalgamation of both nature with the built environment, a meditation on being with and healing in relation to what surrounds us. In this context I also explore the concept of safety, home, discomfort, comfort, chaos and calm. A contrast of aspects as well as unexpected harmonies played out on canvas. My aim is to show vulnerability as a necessity, viewing an ability to allow oneself to be vulnerable as a key part of the healing process.