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Artist Q&A: Frederick Worrell

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Frederick is a UK-based award-winning Māori artist and designer. He creates contemporary art pieces, graphic design work and photography, as well as commissioned pieces for individuals and businesses direct from his studio in Newcastle upon Tyne.

As an indigenous New Zealander living abroad, Frederick has enjoyed creating and exploring his indigenous heritage from afar in a global context. He does this by using a variety of processes, materials, theories and techniques that add texture and definition to his style of work.

How did you get involved with your recent project, Light at the End of the Tunnel?

As an artist I am always looking out for amazing opportunities. I found this while searching on the Indeed website. This has enabled me to showcase my talent and to share my artwork with the public while being true to my vision and unique painting process using convex mirrors and light. Like most public commissions, I had to respond to Newcastle Cathedral’s design brief and propose my creative schematic based on their brief.

Can you tell us about your work for this project – what was your inspiration?

There is a long tradition of eagle lecterns crafted in wood and brass, with talons grasping a globe and wings, depicting the word of God being carried to every part of the world. However, many of those seen in churches today are from the Victorian era, which revived a tradition that had fallen out of favour in the Reformation, with many eagles destroyed in the Cromwellian period. Newcastle Cathedral’s brass eagle is a fine one of 45 examples of pre-Reformation eagles that remain, making it a fine and treasured sacred object. My artwork – The Brass Eagle Has Taken Flight is a piece that evokes the symbolism and beauty of stained-glass windows to surprise visitors and bring light to the Cathedral’s dark, high walls and ceiling.

What is your history with Newcastle? What do you think of it as a city?

The decision to relocate from London to Newcastle upon Tyne was made after considering Devon and Cornwall. Newcastle ticks all the boxes for us, in that it’s a city, with access to beaches and the countryside is also on our doorstep. The quality of life is calmer, more relaxed and more family friendly for us than London. The landscape reminds me of New Zealand. This location suits our family’s lifestyle needs with access to the ocean for surfing, paddle boarding, literally 12 minutes from our home, and walking distance to country parks that we can enjoy. The city’s art scene is vibrant and happening and has architectural elements from contemporary futuristic buildings and bridges to the classical styled architecture, these features remind me of Auckland, Sydney and London. Oh and did I mention that the people here in the north are friendly and helpful!

What’s coming up next for you?

Along with different types of commissioned projects for clients in a multitude of artistic medium – like my convex mirror paintings, canvas and watercolour works – I have recently had the opportunity to work with young people to create some creative art workshops here in Newcastle. I have a passion for inspiring young people and adults through these creative art workshops I’ve strategically put together. Last year I was commissioned by husband-and-wife crochet artist duo, Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole, to research and develop a design for temporary lightweight structure that would house their beautiful crocheted sculptural carvings that will be ready for the public during this year’s Matariki festival (Maori New Year). I would love to catch up in person with everyone involved and see Wharenui Harikoa (House of Joy) in the flesh. Their vision to share joy and our culture will be a world’s first-ever traditional Māori marae (meeting house) made from bright neon crocheted wool, which will firstly be exhibited around New Zealand and then the world.

How would you describe the community of Australian/New Zealand artists in the UK?

The creative Australian and Kiwi art scene is very strong here in the UK. I’ve had the pleasure to connect with artists such as Mandii Pope, who is based in London, and Jasmin Coe, who is a Wiradjuri-British artist based in Bristol and set up the UK’s first ever Aboriginal owned gallery to supporting and celebrating emerging and established Aboriginal artists. While living in London, I also connected with Ngāti Rānana (a London-based Māori group). I would highly recommend checking them out on a Wednesday night to meet other passionate Kiwi’s representing our beautiful culture in the UK. The New Zealand Society UK is definitely a community worth joining as they arrange ex-pat events throughout the year. I especially love the Waitangi Day Ball as an annual event for the calendar. They announce who the UK New Zealander of the year is for all the great work they do in the community as well as it’s an opportunity for me to showcase and donate an artwork which is auctioned off to raise money for the society who in return support creatives like myself to keep making and exploring our craft within the UK and aboard.

Favourite artist(s) right now?

I am captivated by Anish Kapoor’s mesmerizing mirrored art, as it skilfully merges reality and reflection into a stunning visual experience. I see some real similarities in our use of reflection. His artwork, such as “Cloud Gate” (affectionately known as “The Bean”), demonstrates his masterful use of mirrors to create an immersive encounter between the viewer and the artwork. I love the reflective surfaces that he invites us to engage with, as our images intertwine with the environment, blurring the boundaries between the artwork and its audience.

Tell us a bit more about your life in the UK…

I have been living in Newcastle upon Tyne for almost a year now with my wife and two boys after living in London for seven years. My favourite spot so far would definitely be London, for its rich architectural history, multi-culture and art. Since moving to Newcastle, one place I haven’t been to that is in close proximity to us, would be the Lake District. The images I’ve seen remind me of Wānaka, in the South Island of New Zealand in the summertime with its hilly green landscapes and lakes.

To find out more about Frederick’s work visit

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