Sarah Smuts-Kennedy

Year of Residency: September - November 2016

Systems and Collaborations

My research is focused on fields of energy as they engage with conceptual thinking within art based languages and intuition driven modes of enquiry.

Much of my thinking is developed in sync with the growth of my biodynamic garden near Auckland in New Zealand. The non-linear principles of biodynamic and Goethean agricultural theory link to my practice in that I seek to unfold how things work and are interconnected in real time in the space with the viewer.

My projects operate on the proviso that all materials have vibrational qualities that are floating in a sea of energy and that when brought into certain proximities and arrangements together in space, can and do affect that space.

Many of the works are site and duration specific in that the site and time of placement function as materials that shape the formations that emerge. The processes engage faith in real time where artistic outcomes function as evidence of the potential for intuitive and nonlinear logics.

One of the research projects I am doing whist in residence at McCahon House is to use the September, October, and November light referred to by McCahon as a miracle, as sculptural material.

One of the ways I am doing this is by performing an action-based resonance technique called Agnihotra twice a day at sunrise and sunset for the duration of the three months residency.

Agnihotra is a Vedic super science utilising the element of fire, Pyramid power, the resonance of specific sounds ( Sanskrit mantra) and the major circadian rhythms of the planet ie. sunrise and sunset. This 15 minute twice daily practice harnesses energy (sunlight) onsite and uses it to re-harmonize the qualities of the atmosphere for approximately 12 kilometers up and ¾ of a km diameter from where it is done.

It has been demonstrated to have practical applications most notably in the later 80s and early 90s where it was attributed with eradicating a fungi called Sigatoka Negra that almost decimated Banana Plantations across vast regions of Peru.

With the residual ash from this procedure I am making a healing tree paste which I am applying to the trunk of six kauri trees on site.

The tree paste for each tree is made with ghee, clay and the ash from sunrise and sunset Agnihotras. I will be able to paint 6 trees while here in residence.

This procedure gives me one way to develop a working relationship that includes as its collaborators myself, light, and the kauri trees in the immediate region of the McCahon House, and feeds into my other studio based research I am also doing while in residence.

These trees, which are now suffering, and the sunlight present in 1958 functioned as powerful motifs for McCahons work The Wake. This project attempts to perform an Awake in service to ‘McCahons’ kauri trees and to embrace anew the structures that he used to develop his capacity to see beyond the visible realms of the material world.

The rhythm and focus on the daily acts of service and the painting of the six trees places the plight of these trees, and the human potential to engage light to heal, at the centre of this creative art-making problem.




Sarah Smuts-Kennedy has extensively exhibited in Australia, India, Korea and New Zealand since 2003. Smuts-Kennedy graduated with a MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts 2012. She has two strategies for art making which include a collaborative practice and a personal practice. Her personal practice is focused on a research-based investigation into fields of energy as they engage with conceptual thinking both within art-based languages and other intuition driven modes of enquiry. The collaborative practice allows her research to emerge in forms that are social and refer more directly to culture. Her biodynamic, permaculture teaching garden, 45 minutes north of Auckland, functions as a central axis for her research.

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy was born in Lower Hutt in 1966. Her work is held in significant collections including Art Bank Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia Adelaide, Macquarie Art Group Sydney, Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, Ten Cubed Melbourne, Deutsche Bank Sydney and the James Wallace Arts Trust NZ.

Recent exhibitions have been held at Rm Gallery (2013 & 2016), Malcolm Smith Gallery (2016), Breen Space Sydney (2013), Sophie Gannon Gallery Melbourne (2014 & 2016), tcb Gallery Melbourne (2016).  She is currently working on a asocial sculptural commission for Auckland City Council 2016-2018 called City Bee Collaboration.

Artists Website

Art work available for purchase

Sound of Drawing: beginning, middle, end January #2, 2017

Inkjet prints (triptych) - unframed

Editions of three

297 mm x 420 mm each

$1,100 inclusive of GST

Sound of Drawing: beginning, middle, end March #1, 2017

Inkjet prints (triptych) - unframed

Editions of three

420 mm x 537 mm each

$1,400 inclusive of GST