Troy Jackson (Niue, Hakupu Atua, Avasele, Ngāpuhi, African American) is a multidisciplinary artist who was born and bred in Ōtara, South Auckland. His art traverses various mediums including glass etching, calligraphy, wood carving, painting and more recently digital art.
Early exposure to traditional Māori art forms and study at Ngāti Ōtara and Whai Ora marae has had a significant influence on his practice.
Recently, Jackson has completed long-term community studio art residencies with Crosspower Ministries and Massey Homestead working with local youth art programmes.
Information about the exhibition at The Ōyster
Troy's art installation is a striking reflection on the recent Cyclone that caused havoc across Aotearoa. Circular saw blades, engraved with Pacific motifs, are suspended above miniature vaka, creating an industrial aesthetic that is both powerful and unsettling. However, there is more to this installation than meets the eye. Troy's inspiration for the piece came from a vivid dream he had months before the floods. Incorporating found objects and debris strewn in his yard from the aftermath of the Cyclone, he adds a deeper layer of meaning to the installation.
For Troy, the installation is a powerful expression of resilience, creativity, and the transformative power of art. By exploring the intersections between culture, technology, and the natural world, he draws on his own cultural and spiritual traditions to create a work that speaks to the resilience of his community in the face of adversity. Overall, Troys art installation is a testament to the ways in which art can inspire and transform, offering hope and renewal even in the most challenging circumstances.
Who is one of your biggest influences?
My parents have a creative background, with my mother being skilled in sewing and weaving and my father drawing cowboys as a child. They both have a fondness for Westerns. My mother, who attended art school for a little while, has a talent for art. I remember her drawing women's faces and fashion illustration. She continues to be creative and expresses herself through crochet, drawing, and painting. She even stitches her designs onto pillows, inspired by the styles of the 1930s.
What do you love most about being an artist?
I love creating art out of anything and expressing myself in different ways. Art is a huge part of my life, and it's always with me, whether I'm out for a walk or simply relaxing. Whenever I find something dull or uninspiring, I can always find a way to breathe new life into it through my art.
My cultural heritage and identity are also reflected in my creations. It's amazing how a single thought can turn into a finished masterpiece, from a rough sketch to a final product.
My daughter is my biggest critic, and her feedback always helps me improve. I'm grateful for her support, and I'm proud to share my love of art with my children. Even though they didn't inherit my artistic passion, they support me.
What recent exhibition most excited you and why?
One of my proudest moments as an artist was when the executives at Telstra asked me to design something for the doors of their building. This was not a recent achievement, but it remains one of my memorable and biggest challenges to date. I designed and engraved by hand all 18 panels for the doors of the Telstra Events Centre (now renamed Due Drop Events Centre) when it opened in Manukau in 2005. This was a massive undertaking that took a couple of weeks to complete. It was an incredible opportunity for me to showcase my skills in glass engraving and to have my work displayed in such a prominent location.
I was personally invited by CEO Richard Jefferies (at the time) and I am proud of the final outcome. It was a defining moment in my career and gave me the confidence to pursue more challenging projects.
How do you think your heritage informs your art practice?
As a person of mixed heritage, it can be challenging to represent designs or motifs from one specific culture, but it's still an integral part of my identity. My work is multicultural and contemporary, and I don't spend too much time planning or designing it. I usually have a clear idea of what I want to create and let the creative process guide me.
My designs are a fusion of different cultures, and I don't always explicitly mention the cultural influences unless someone asks. Those who see my art can often see the connections to different cultures, with hints of this and that. Ultimately, my art reflects my diverse background and is a celebration of cultural diversity.
What is the main message you want to convey through your work in general?
TJ: I create art as a way of expressing myself and showcasing the fusion of different cultures that make up my identity. I want people to see who I am, not just my Niuean heritage. I try to turn negative experiences into positive ones and show that I'm in control of my life.
For example, I use the aftermath of a cyclone to capture what it did to everyone, and I create art that draws comparisons between the cyclone and saw blades. I also incorporate natural elements, such as walking sticks, into my work.
My faith and Christian background are also reflected in my art. For instance, I create vaka (canoe) designs that represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When I create, I try to capture the stillness that Jesus speaks of, even amidst chaos and turmoil.
Overall, my art is a reflection of who I am, and I hope that it inspires others to embrace their own identities and celebrate cultural diversity.
Jackson is largely self-taught and was trained in calligraphy, signwriting, and glass etching at Whai Ora marae; a Catholic marae in Ōtara, under the tutelage of artist/tutor Sister Monica Swindell. He worked closely with other local artists in training and eventually became the tutor for the bone carving module based at Whai Ora marae.
Through his work within the community, and artist residencies Jackson has been able to share his knowledge and skills with the next generation of artists, helping to foster a love for the arts in his community. He continues to create small commissioned pieces for the local community.