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Born in Auckland in 1976, Rachel Walters attended Auckland University's Elam School of Fine Arts, graduating in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In 2006, Walters was awarded a Masters of Fine Arts (with First Class Honours) andthe Head of School's prize for Contemporary Maori Art. While Walters' body of work encompasses installation, painting, mixed media work, photography and sculpture, it is predominantly as a sculptor that she has found her niche.
Walters' earlier works - particularly her painting - were preoccupied with the inherent qualities ofmedium and material and theoretically intent on making explicit certain concepts surrounding the artistic act of production. Thisfascination with the physicality of paint and the hands-on natureof her artistic process saw Walters' work grow ever morethree-dimensional until it began to transcend the bounds of apainted support (board, canvas and paper) and became more alignedwith the concepts of sculpture.
Walters' sculpture moves in a continuum from a manipulation of found, everyday or handmade objects (sometimes joined haphazardly in union, melted or adorned with silicon or oozing, brown No-More-Nails adhesive), to the casting of such manipulations in bronze as a representation of finality, an unchangeable end product. At either end of the spectrum, the results are equally awkward: jarring juxtapositions that elicit anuncomfortable marriage of objects and ideas, questioning both the intent of the maker and the qualities of the material andhighlighting the issues of cultural and historical ownership with which Walters so deliberately imbues her work.
Since 2002, Walters has participated in numerous groupexhibitions in Auckland, Wellington and London. Alongside notabledesigners, photographers and notorious New Zealand concept artistBilly Apple, Walters was chosen to interpret Bombay Sapphire at the gin-maker's 2008 'Botanical Bar' - a curated exhibition in whichshe created ceramic works based on the pan-cultural folklore ofherbal remedies. Since 2007, a series of miniature bronzesculptures entitled Little Savages has inhabited the swamp walkway of the Brick Bay sculpture trail, a quaint homage to forest dwellers of early Maori mythology, each with the visage suitablyaltered by Walters in the process of casting.