Debbie Fish

Debbie Fish, Reflecting on Hauraki, 2022

Recycled plastic, stretched polyester film, bio-based epoxy, springs & attachments. 600mm diameter per unit.

Reflecting on Hauraki was prompted by a story in which it was revealed that the New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry Council had misrepresented data concerning lobster populations in the Hauraki Gulf, arguably in a disingenuous effort to delay action on overfishing in the region. The controversy illustrated to Debbie Fish the ease with which statistics could be taken out of context to furnish an idealistic narrative.

Her work is a form of data visualisation, comprising 40 discs scattered across the land, scintillating in the sunlight in an immodestly beautiful display. This beauty, however, should make a question of art’s complicity in these same processes of misrepresentation; is it the accurate reflection of the Hauraki environment it purports to be? Or is it that data, like any other material, can be infinitely moulded in support of an ideal, and sketchy vested interests?

Against this backdrop of murky facts, Fish affirms the importance of self-reflexivity. “Art,” she writes, “helps us communicate across silos, to zoom out and understand our place within the whole. But like anything else…it needs to be aware of its context, its power and its limitations.”


Lives and works in Wellington.

Debbie Fish holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Victoria University Wellington and a Graduate Diploma in Economics from Massey University. Her theatre, performance, and set design background feeds into her practice as an installation artist, unfolding the enduring drama of social and biological life and the often-messy collisions between the two.

Fish is an alumnus of the Keelung National Museum of Marine Science and Technology International Environmental Art Residency in Taiwan (2017), for which she made a site-specific artwork connecting marine science and contemporary art. Her work is also included in several public and private collections, including the Wallace Arts Trust.

goldfishcreative.co.nz/installations  @debbiefish_art