Let’s Talk Art: Stories of Abstraction: The Artists Journey


Let’s Talk Art, Viaduct Events Centre
Sunday 21 April, 1PM – 1:45PM

Discover the world of abstraction in art with us. Explore how artists Grace Wright and Sara Hughes, known for their larger-scale works, interact with their environment and the spaces they inhabit. Together with Jessica Palalagi, Arts Foundation General Manager, the three will dive into the stories behind the marks they make and the narratives hidden within their creations. We’ll also discuss the unique journey of female artists, often overlooked in traditional art circles. Join us to uncover the rich tapestry of meaning in abstract art.

This talk is presented as part of Let’s Talk Art, the talks programme at the 2024 Aotearoa Art Fair, held from 18 – 21 April at the Viaduct Events Centre. To attend this talk, purchase a ticket to the Fair.


Jessica Palalagi


Jessica, with roots in Niue/Nukututaha and Aberdeen, Scotland, holds an MA in Art History from Auckland University. In London since 2004, she worked in diverse industries, including coordinating support for a High Net-worth Individual. She later focused on sustainability, innovation, and inclusion at Marks & Spencer, serving as Sustainability Lead for 7 years and Co-Chair of the BAME network. She co-founded the Interis*land Collective, showcasing Moana art globally. Returning to Aotearoa in 2020, she curates exhibitions, networks with artists, and consults for social enterprises.


Grace Wright is an artist based in Auckland, represented by Gow Langsford Gallery. Grace’s paintings immerse viewers in a baroque world of intricate gestures. Her abstract markings twist and convulse, creating structures that unravel into moments of calm. Despite their abstract nature, Wright sees her paintings as representational narratives, evoking the rhythmic chaos of nature and referencing 17th-century religious art. She views her work as a reflection of universal forms in nature, with her brush marks echoing the cyclical rhythms she perceives.

Sara Hughes


Sara Hughes is a highly regarded artist in Australasia, with work displayed in public galleries across New Zealand and held in significant collections like the Chartwell Collection and Auckland City Art Gallery. She has won prestigious awards such as the Wallace Art Award and the Norsewear Art Award. Hughes has participated in notable residencies including the Francis Hodgkins Fellowship and the Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Artists Residency. Her work, widely published, includes high-profile public commissions like Magma in Auckland and outdoor works for the re-opening of Cathedral Square in Christchurch.