Sara Catena was raised on traditional handcrafts, imagination and pots of tea in a small country town on the coast of New Zealand with parents who valued resourcefulness and taught her a deep sense of caring for land, community and creativity.
Catenas art practice continues from her rich New Zealand childhood, where she was given immense creative space and was often found making stuff. She loves working beyond the traditional confines of the canvas in ways that delight and surprise using textile, embroidery and plywood embellishments whenever possible, to add whimsy, and pull the viewer in. She often creates a poem that initiates the imagery which is occasionally added into the work.
Life has so many forces that can thwart our ability to experience simple joy. Catena believes that Art holds the power to add value, enliven and nourish the soul of people and place, in contrast to despair, it can reflect and demonstrate true spirit. Her art practice has always been about holding this pure and naive view whilst living in the real and crazy world.
Catenas evocative use of colour reflects the joy she finds in the natural world how it magically marries the most glorious colours and evokes potent emotions. This aspect of life has always drawn her in:
I remember laying on my back in the luscious emerald New Zealand grass, staring blissfully for hours at the blue, blue sky and thats the essence of what I channel into my work as purely as I possibly can.
Catenas site-specific work for Coonara Community House in 2017 was a reflection of the radiant and diverse group of users who come to nourish and be nourished, and the beautiful threads that connect the community. Her recent theatrical, sensory installation for special needs children at Knox Festival was a magnificent and resounding success. Using textile, paint, stitchery, sound, lighting and a collaboration with 6 local secondary schools, to create a sensory immersion that delighted all visitors, it was labelled the triumph of the festival by the organisers.
Saras work is strongly motivated by her father who had been pushed into an academic career against his creative, personal nature. Armed with a skill-set of textile, needle and thread by her dressmaker mother, as a child, she could always find/make joy in the world of sewing and art-making; particularly when life was challenging
She have been literally playing and working with paint and textile for over 30 years now and still finds, that navigating life’s ups and downs, Art making still holds that rich and deep Joy.