New Zealand (1942-)
Born Shoshanna Hayman in Te Marua, Lower Hutt, in 1942, Christina Conrad is known as a filmmaker, sculptor, poet, performer and artist. Conrad is often regarded as an ‘outsider’ artist due to her desire for isolated living and unique perspective on life. She lived in rural New Zealand for twenty years without electricity or running water, painting only by daylight. The kitchen cupboards for full of her work instead of food.
Conrad is the estranged daughter of notable British artist Patrick Hayman. Conrad was unaware of who her father was and upon the discovery of his identity, Hayman became a central figure within her work. In a poem named ‘father’ she wrote of the estranged Hayman:
“father, you came too late, a mound of anger had grown, over heart’s divided chamber.”
Miro Bilbrough is Conrad’s daughter, she also went on to pursue an artistic career referencing Hayman in her memoir ‘In the Time of the Manaroans’:
“It occurs to me that his painting, which often include poems or literary fragments, might have been gardens to him. I sometimes think of this when I am writing that I am making a garden to roam in.”
Conrad’s work is unique and textural. Overlapping many different mediums including filmmaking, poetry, sculpture and painting. Her work portrays the desire to stray from normality and inability to define herself as one singular entity.
Since the late 1990’s Conrad has focused more heavily on the art of filmmaking. In 2016 she screened her autobiography titled ‘Heretic’ at Lot 23 in Auckland. This film was written and directed by Christina alongside artist Agnieszka Baginska. This confronting documentary reveals the hidden life of Conrad. She delves into her childhood, her inability to conform within society and struggles with motherhood. In the same year, Conrad held a solo exhibition at Pierre Peeters Gallery in Auckland titled ‘All Along the Dark Avenues of the Soul’. This was an exhibition of clay sculptures featuring her signature surreal figures.
Christina Conrad’s work can be found in galleries and museums in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Europe. Conrad currently resides in Sydney, Australia.