Christina Conrad


Born in New Zealand (12/18/42), Conrad is an internationally acclaimed poet, playwright and "outsider" artist. She is the author of three books. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and magazines in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.K. They have also been widely anthologized (The Oxford Book of Modern New Zealand Poetry, Kiwi and Emu, and The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Verse).
Conrad’s first book - This Fig Tree Has Thorns - is considered a modern-day classic. A French translation, published by Infrablu Press in Paris in 1996, sold out within two weeks. She is also represented in the Bloomsbury Book of Women Writers (U.K.) and has been the subject of several documentary films, including one that is now in progress. Conrad's paintings and clay icons have been exhibited in major galleries in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.

Artist's Statement

... I am one of the obsessed. From birth. I could stare at the head of a pin for a million years. Am subject to crushes, obsessions, fetishes... Each time I fell madly in love the object of my passion was never available... Delay was my closest lover. Yet Lucidity came to me. Each night I weighed his golden balls. I learnt to work with suffering, ruthlessly applying it... I worked with the bloody tangle, unwinding the cords that threatened to strangle, working like some mad silk worm, year after year... In darkness, in blinding light, I studied the somber jewel of sorrow... Stumbling upon secret seams of joy, I found a type of balance. Working like a medium, I called up many influences, sorting them, blindly, perceptively. This is the way with creative people - they are born with an excess of mental energy. If not used properly it rots... In this way one must be careful with obsession. One must work with it... the energy must be conducted... and one must learn how to do this, otherwise it turns back on the creator causing stagnation and torment...
Groping in darkness, I erect MY BELOVED at the centre of my creative life. Around this sticky mandala, I spin. All the while the heart screams in its rickety cage... for love... love. I use the object of my of my desire to peg down the abstract ideas I'm secretly courting. I court the abstract... The bulwark of love is the artifice I use... I must work secretly, in hidden places. I must not draw attention to the fact I'm groping under life's yoke. I must feed the fires - the fires of torment, the fires of desire - where love is crucified by its own purpose. For these fires, I choose the largest and juiciest logs... It's the idea behind the idea behind the idea one winsomely suckles...

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