Fale-ship: Elsie Andrewes


Surreal, warm and entwined with the past, Elsie’s digital illustrations draw on memories of her childhood homes. Inspired by the concept of ‘Memory Palaces’ and her parent’s collection of antiques, books and music, handcrafted mats and masi kesa, Elsie weaves her childhood memories together to create surreal yet familiar images of home. 

“I am an artist and digital illustrator based in Whangarei, Northland. I was born in Fiji, descendant from the mountain village Koroboya to a Fijian Mother and Pakeha (NZ European) Father. We lived in Vatukoula, a gold mining town until we immigrated to Aotearoa in 2000. 

My interest in visual arts started early in my youth, having been lucky to be brought up surrounded by my father’s collections of antiques, artwork and music from around the world, and my mother’s own archives of books, handcrafted mats, masi kesa, and storytelling. These influences heavily inspired me in my practice, drawing from the detailed patterns of the masi, photographs of the iconic Fijian sunset, Motown music from the 60s and books. 

I create my works in the comfort of my bedroom. It’s where I keep my books, photo albums and diaries. The light is also best there. The bedroom acts as a library of memories and inspiration for me.”  

In the comfort of her bedroom, Elsie draws inspiration from her surroundings filled with imagery and literature. Old family photo albums and books on palms influence Elsie’s pencil sketches which are later transformed into majestic digital illustrations.  

Enjoy this window into Elsie’s creative process and creative workspace! 

Dreamy architectural drawings in pop-tropical hues of pink and orange reflect Elsie’s memories of her childhood homes. For her residency Elsie created a series of three digital illustrations of her childhood home drawn from her memory. The remembered homes float in a space somewhere between imagination and reality. 

“What was a simple pathway to learn something new, had morphed into a labyrinth of something surreal, yet still so familiar. Just as my ancestors had used mythologies to teach and recite important information, my memory began to take on more wild visualisations.” 


Check out Elsie’s highlight video as she reflects on her Tautai Fale-ship Residency!  

Although Elsie’s creative space is her bedroom, creating work for the Fale-ship drew her closer not only to the past, but also to her current environment. Looking at the landscape as a source of knowledge for her indigenous ancestors, Elsie was inspired to look further into her own place and environment to discover what knowledge and lessons it held.  

“I have always created art in the comfort of my own home, my bedroom. However, this experience allowed me to really focus and hone in on developing a personal passion project that I’ve now held on for some time now – that ended up being an emotional journey as well.” 

– Elsie Andrewes

Video by NoSix


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