Séraphine Pick, Burning the Furniture 2007. Oil on Linen. Private
Séraphine Pick, Burning the Furniture 2007. Oil on Linen. Private collection. Reproduced courtesy of the artist.
Séraphine Pick Education Resource Card
Séraphine Pick was born in Kawakawa, Bay of Islands, New Zealand. She graduated from Ilam
School of Fine Arts University of Canterbury in 1988. In 1994 she was the recipient of the Olivia
Spencer Bower Foundation Art Award. In 1995 she was the Rita Angus Artist in Residence in
Wellington. In 1999 she was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship. She currently lives and
works in Wellington.
1. Do you think this painting is of a real place or an imagined place? Why?
2. Pick has used a limited pallet of colours in this painting. List all the colours you can see. Are
they warm or cool colours? Does the painting have a warm or cool feeling?
3. Does it look like day or night time in this painting? Do you think Pick started by painting the
light or dark colours first? Have a look at the way light falls on the subjects –can you tell
which direction the light is coming from? (Imagine you are holding a torch, to create the light
and shadows in the picture –which direction would you have to point it from?).
4. Who do you think is the main character in this painting? Why? What are they doing?
5. Sometimes artists place objects in their paintings to act as symbols. List some of the objects
in this painting and think what they might be symbols for. (e.g. the jewelled ring might
symbolise engagement or wealth, the burnt television might symbolise destruction or broken
Art Activity Ideas
1. Write a short story inspired by the characters, atmosphere, and symbols in this painting.
Create a new character to add to your story (either a person or animal). Paint a picture of your
new character. Give your new character two objects (to hold, sit on, stand next to or play
with). What are the objects? What do they symbolise to you? Why did you choose them?
2. Play with different compositions for a painting by cutting out pictures of people, animals,
furniture, and other objects from magazines then arranging them in layouts on a page. Think
about different scales and perspectives in the picture and the relationships between the
objects. Keep adding or subtracting elements until you are happy with the composition.
3. Study other NZ figurative painters such as Rita Angus (b.1908 d.1970), Bill Hammond
(b.1947), Jacquline Fahey (b. 1929-), Robyn Kahukiwa (b.1938-), Michael Smither (b. 1939 ), Maryrose Crook (b.1957-). What do they have in common with Pick? How does their work
differ from hers? How do they differ in their approach to representing the figure? What
different painting techniques do they use? What are their different approaches to creating
illusions of depth and space? Pick was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch (b.1450 d.1516) and
Francisco Goya (b.1746 d.1828). Which aspects of her artworks are similar to theirs?
4. Paint an arrangement of a collection of objects with a limited pallet of colours. Begin by
painting a dark colour over your page, and work from the background forwards from darker
tones and colours to lighter ones. Choose a central point for the source of light in your
A lot of art is over explained, that tends to kill it. When people look at my work
All the works flow into each ot
Séraphine Pick speaking in the DVD ‘
’© St1 and Screentime Ltd
Helpful Terms & Resources
.The novelist Elizabeth Knox has
written a piece of fantasy prose ‘
’inspired by her paintings.
Her painting style has evolved and changed over time, and aspects of her
practice relate to the following art categories.
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork which is
clearly derived from real object sources, and is therefore to some extent
representational. The term "figurative art" is often taken to mean art which
represents the human figure, and although this is often the case, it is not
Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent things such as ideas and
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s. Surrealist
artworks feature the element of surprise, and unexpected juxtapositions
(arrangements of objects/elements).
Images: www.michaellett.com or www.christchurchartgallery.org.nz or
www.brookegiffordgallery.co.nz or www.hamishmckaygallery.com
Article: www.ramp.mediarts.net.nz (archive)
Television programme: www.tvnz.co.nz TVNZ video, (search: Séraphine Pick).
Book: Séraphine Pick by Felicity Milburn, Lara Strongman. Christchurch Art
Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu. 2009.
Education Resource Card written by Helen Lloyd, Educator at City Gallery Wellington, 2010.