Sofia Minson - an indigenous Maori artist with English, Swedish & Irish heritage, Minson has a unique & rich perspective of the world. We decided it was time we got to know Minson a little better as an award-winning artist who has forged a unique platform on the world stage.
What do you make? What’s your art practice?
I paint with oils and acrylics and ink across both portraits and landscapes. My work embodies images of nature, birds and people that express a deeper connection to myths, magic and symbolism.
What does a normal day look like for you?
A normal painting day starts with waking up and taking it slowly in the morning. I enjoy a cup of coffee, feed the cats, family time, maybe some practical stuff around the house and garden. I find gardening really grounds me.
I tend to get into the painting zone later in the day and it’s often the evening when I feel in full creative flow. Sometimes I can wake up in the middle of the night with ideas and start painting but, on a normal day, I create until around dinner time then break and continue afterwards and into the evening. My approach changes throughout the year as I find my inspiration and flow comes and goes in intense chunks of time - It’s all on or all off.
What was your childhood like? What was your upbringing and how did it influence today?
In my childhood, because of my dad's civil engineering work, we lived here in Aotearoa as well as years in Samoa, Sri Lanka and China.
The Sri Lanka experience particularly stands out to me as I was in a very formative period of life from age 11 to 14. The juxtaposition of different religions and ethnicities as well as the huge disparities of wealth and poverty was a culture shock which shaped me as a person. I resonated profoundly with the idea of “unity in diversity” and I became passionate about celebrating the uniqueness of people, their views, storytelling and spiritual practices and beliefs, which is something that has come through strongly in my art.
Equally, I felt very rootless with so much travel. Art gave me a language to explore the unfolding sense of who I am, my connection to this land and a place in which to stand. I explored my Maori heritage, land, nature and spiritual roots of Aotearoa - all themes I capture in my paintings of ancestors, deities, contemporary Maori people, mountains, waka and local myths.
Where do you find inspiration as an artist?
In the natural world and being connected to nature - mountains, rivers, oceans, sky, earth. I also find inspiration in exploring the deep psyche of myself and the learnings and knowledge that has been passed down from our ancestors. It is a huge inspiration for me as an artist not only learning about Maori myths and legends but also the western esoteric traditions and combining them to find the energetic and archetypal forces that are most intriguing to my own life
What do you love most about working and living in Aotearoa?
Through my 16 years of painting professionally, I feel very connected to the land here and I feel like this land is home. I love the rising indigenous voices and indigenous spirit that I see coming from Aotearoa. It’s a very exciting time to be living here, especially with the idea of guardianship (kaitiaki) and working in a mutual flourishing relationship with the environment here. There is a lot of ancient knowledge that is resurfacing and that’s being integrated into our modern way of living in the world.
How has your work changed over time?
It’s changed a lot. I’ve changed a lot in the medium I use as I used to predominantly paint oil on canvas, a more traditional western medium, and now I’ve combined and varied the different materials including acrylic, ink and metallic paints.
The messages have become more lived and embodied in my own experience. The philosophies that have come through in the art over the years have been more and more real to me and more and more intimate to my actual self-knowledge.
How has the digital space affected your artwork?
Firstly it’s enabled my artwork and the messages behind it to reach a wider audience through the internet.
From a learning and research point of view, I have greater access to a vast amount of information right at my fingertips through podcasts, audiobooks, being able to order any book I want online. I’m therefore able to teach myself quicker about the esoteric knowledge of the psyche that used to be limited to mystery schools. We are able to listen to people’s conversations from around the world making us so much less isolated and more connected to the kind of voices that inspire our creative work.
What is your studio/creative space like?
It is a big room. I’ve painted sacred geometry on the walls to inspire myself when I’m working. I have a ranch slider out onto our deck which has a beautiful view to the ocean which is awesome. It’s also very messy like any good studio.
What drew you to working with The Poi Room? Describe your relationship with The Poi Room & how our values fit with your business?
The people - MJ, Clayton and the whole team are very special which is what drew us into working with The Poi Room in the first place.
The fact that The Poi Room value selling archival prints together as an extension of the original artwork message is something that’s really important to me in continuing the root connection of each of my pieces. My view is that people buy the prints or go into The Poi Room to look at the art because they find it healing.