In Conversation with Elke Finkenauer, Shortlisted Artist for the Aesthetica Art Prize

With the Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition opening on 4 April, we speak to one of the finalists, who will be exhibiting in York St Mary’s along with seven other shortlisted artists. Elke Finkenauer was selected from thousands of entries for her piece Draw A Line Somewhere (2012-13) in the Painting and Drawing category. Her work explores languages of drawing, through engagement with surface, line, gesture and process. In Draw A Line Somewhere she has conflated drawing with soft sculpture techniques to produce a soft-drawing. The materiality of the work hints at 3D yet it exhibits characteristics of drawing, with a flat surface as a ground and line created through processes of cutting and stitching.

A: You were selected from thousands of entries for the Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, congratulations on this latest accolade! What does it mean for you as an artist to be featured in such a major group show?
Thank you! I am very excited to be part of such a prestigious Art Prize – to be exhibiting alongside a dynamic and interesting group of international artists; and to bring my work to an international audience.

A: Your work Draw A Line Somewhere lifts drawing out into three-dimensional reality. Where did you get the idea to do this?
For a while I have been interested in an expanded form of drawing, based on re-constructing languages of two-dimensional artwork. A pared-down definition of drawing could be a mark with a relationship to a ground or surface. In my work, I began thinking: what if the lines, which form my drawing, were removed from the surface, or even constructed from a surface, so that the line and ground merge? Then the space around the drawing becomes the ground for the work.

A: Which artists inspire you in this method of creating, and how?
I am inspired by many artists and am usually drawn to them through a combination of their creative process; the formal qualities of their work, physicality in their work and a subtle confluence of ideas and material. Recently, I have been very interested in Karla Black and Eva Hesse. In the past I have also looked at Cornelia Parker, and I was excited when I realised that my work Draw A Line Somewhere would be hanging in the same space in which her work Thirty Pieces of Silver has previously hung.

A: What is the experience that you hope viewers of Draw A Line Somewhere (2012-13) will encounter?
I hope the work makes viewers feel simultaneously comfortable and slightly uncomfortable; that it sets off a chain of individual associations and connections, which they can follow as they wish; and that it offers up small surprises on close inspection.

A: You’re making the epic journey from New Zealand to York, UK, to see your work in the exhibition (York St Mary’s, York: 4 April – 22 June 2014). Is it important for you to see first-hand the shows that you are in?
This is not always possible, of course, but when it is there is nothing like seeing one’s work in a fresh exhibition context and seeing how it operates alongside other artists’ work.

A: Do you have future projects lined up?
Over the next year I will be working on a collaboration with an urban design team, creating an urban wetland space. I am creating a concept for a drawn line which moves through the space in positive and negative iterations. I will also be completing a Master of Fine Art.

Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, 4 April – 22 June 2014, York St Mary’s, Castlegate, York, YO1 9RN. For more information visit and

1. Draw A Line Somewhere (2012-13), Elke Finkenauer.