Sofia Minson is a portrait and landscape oil painter of Ngāti Porou (Māori), Swedish, English and Irish heritage. She works from her studio in Auckland, New Zealand.
Born in Auckland in 1984, Sofia spent much of her childhood in Samoa, Sri Lanka and China due to her father's civil engineering work. On returning to New Zealand as a teenager, painting enabled her to reconnect with her homeland and her mixed Māori and European heritage, as well as celebrate the cultural and religious diversity that she had experienced overseas.
Sofia’s contemporary Maori portraits depict creative individuals who are helping to evolve today’s culture through their own art forms or roles in society. Her mythical, primordial landscapes and seascapes with ancient waka (canoes) are inspired by the creation myths and voyaging history of Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Since 2004 Sofia's paintings have been exhibited and collected in the USA, Europe and throughout New Zealand. She has won three national awards including the Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award in 2005 and is a three-time finalist in the New Zealand Portrait Gallery's Adam Portraiture Awards, winning People's Choice in 2012 when the finalists' exhibition toured to Christchurch.
Six New Zealand artists including Sofia were chosen to feature in the 2010 documentary "Canvassing The Treaty", in which they deepened their knowledge about the Treaty of Waitangi and created cross-cultural collaborative artworks together. She has also collaborated with local children from Orakei School and painted one-on-one with autistic children for the "Art for Autism" project in 2010. She has worked with community organisations and charities through artwork donations and in 2009 shaved her head as part of “Shave an Artist”, a fundraiser for the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation.
The once traditional oil painter was seduced by the power of public art in November 2012 when Newmarket Business Association commissioned Sofia to do a massive 9 x 15 metre urban paste-up of a print of her painting of Tiki Taane with full-face moko (traditional Maori tattoo) on a wall in the heart of Auckland's most exclusive retail district.
Sofia’s vision is to be the world’s top contemporary Māori portrait painter and to help build understanding respect and friendship between cultures.
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'I AM TV' feature on Sofia Minson's art
Aired 10th December 2011, TVNZ Channel 2
Aired Waitangi Day 2010 on Maori TV and at FIFO international film festival 2011
2012 - People's Choice Winner, Adam Portraiture Awards, Christchurch touring leg of the exhibition, NZ
2012 - Finalist, Adam Portraiture Awards, Wellington, NZ
2010 - 1st Prize, ART Auckland Awards, Auckland East Arts Council, NZ
2010 - Finalist, Adam Portraiture Awards, Wellington, NZ
2008 - Finalist, Adam Portraiture Awards, Wellington, NZ
2007 - Diploma of Excellence, Artoteque's online global art annual
2005 - 1st Prize, Auckland East Arts Council Art Competition, NZ
2005 - 1st Prize, Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Awards, Whakatane, NZ
2004 - Merit Award, Auckland East Arts Council Art Competition, NZ
2005 - Bachelor of Art and Design, Auckland University of Technology
2012 – Solo exhibition at Parnell Gallery, Auckland, NZ
2012 – Solo exhibition at the Gallery Helena Bay Hill, Northland, NZ
2011 – Solo exhibition at Red Spot Gallery, Rotorua, NZ
2010 – Solo exhibition at Toi o Tahuna Gallery, Queenstown, NZ
2009 – Solo exhibition at McCarthy Gallery, Auckland, NZ
2009 – Solo exhibition at the Gallery Helena Bay Hill, Northland, NZ
2008 – Solo exhibition “Beyond Wrongdoing and Rightdoing” at Toi o Tahuna Gallery, Queenstown, NZ
2008 – Solo exhibition at Erenus Art Gallery, Ankara, TURKEY
2008 – Solo exhibition at the Gallery Helena Bay Hill, Northland, NZ
2007 – Solo exhibition “The Rope of Mankind” at Aveia Gallery, Auckland, NZ
Key Projects and Events
Nov 2012 – The BIG Urban Paste-Up commission of a 9 x 15 metre portrait by Sofia on a public wall in Newmarket
Jan 2012 – Guest artist at the Whakatane Arts Festival as a previous recipient of Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award
Nov 2011 – The New Zealand Portrait Gallery commissioned Sofia to paint Dame Joan Metge's portrait
Nov 2011 – Collaborative painting project with Orakei School children
Oct 2011 – Live painting demonstration at the New Zealand Fellowship of Artists' Gallery
Nov 2010 – Art Week Auckland 'Insiders Guide', Sofia gave a talk at Parnell Gallery introducing her artwork to an exclusive tour group
Oct 2010 – Guest artist and live painting demonstration at ARTauckland 2010
Sep 2010 – Judge of North Shore City Art Awards. Fellow judges Liz Caughey and Jeff Thompson
Jun 2010 – Guest Speaker at the Emerging Artist Forum at Satellite Gallery in Newton
Jun 2010 – “Without Boundaries – Art for Autism” collaborative painting project between Sofia and autistic children
Feb 2010 – "Canvassing The Treaty" collaborative arts project and documentary
Feb 2009 – "Shave an Artist" art auction & artist head shaving fundraiser initiated by Sofia for The Leukaemia & Blood Foundation
Selected Group Exhibitions
2011 – "The Makers of Modern NZ" Exhibition at NZ Portrait Gallery, Wellington, NZ
2011 – Joint Show with Aaron Kereopa at Toi o Tahuna Gallery, Queenstown, NZ
2011 – Joint Show "Connecting Threads" with Matt Gauldie at Parnell Gallery, Auckland, NZ
2010 – Adam Portraiture Awards national touring exhibition of finalists, NZ
2010 – "What it is to be Kiwi" group show at Harrisons Gallery, Tauranga, NZ
2010 – “Inner Strength” women’s charity exhibition, NZ Art Guild at Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland, NZ
2009 – “My Favourite Things” group show at Harrisons Gallery, Tauranga, NZ
2009 – Kings College Art Sale, Auckland, NZ
2009 – Atamira | Maori in the City, creative expo at Auckland Showgrounds, NZ
2009 – Winter group show at Toi o Tahuna Gallery, Queenstown, NZ
2009 – Baradene College Art Show, Auckland, NZ
2008 – Adam Portraiture Award Exhibition, NZ Portrait Gallery, Wellington, NZ
2008 – International group show, The Dolmabahce Palace Museum, Istanbul, TURKEY
2007 – Xmas group show at the Artist’s Room Gallery, Dunedin, NZ
2007 – “Whence We Came” charity show for Kidney Kids, Ashton Grove, Auckland, NZ
2007 – Aaron Kereopa & Sofia’s exhibition at Toi o Tahuna Gallery, Queenstown, NZ
2007 – Australian and New Zealand Art Exhibition at Agora Gallery, New York, USA
2007 – “Meridian Energy Plunket Art Show 2007″, Aigantighe Art Gallery, Timaru, NZ
2007 – “Mid Summer Night’s Dream” group exhb, Tara Poolman Gallery, Matakana, NZ
2007 – “Adore – Cherishing the Feminine”, group show, Haven Art, Waipu, NZ
2007 – “Northern Light”, group show, Haven Art, Waipu, NZ
2006 – “Magic” international group exhibition at Estense Castle in Ferrara, ITALY
2006 – Mazda Artworks, The Hilton Auckland, NZ
2006 – “Artshowcase” Sofia featured artist, Auckland East Arts Council, Grace Joel, NZ
2006 – True Colours Charitable Trust Art Auction, NZ
2005 – Auckland East Arts Council Art Exhibition, NZ
2005 – Saint Kentigern School Parents and Friends Fundraising Event, NZ
2005 – “Different Places Different Faces”, 3 artist show, Lake House Gallery, Akl, NZ
2005 – Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Awards, Whakatane, NZ
2004 – NZ Runway, Fashion Week, Auckland viaduct, NZ
2004 – Grace Joel Exhibition, Auckland, NZ
2004 – Ronald McDonald House Charity Silent Auction, NZ
Books Featuring Sofia's Art
"Artists' Impressions of New Zealand" compiled by Denis Robinson, New Holland Publishers NZ Ltd, Auckland, 2011
"New Zealand's Favourite Artists 2" edited by Denis Robinson, compiled by Denis Robinson, Saint Publishing Ltd, Auckland, 2008
"New Zealand on Canvas" compiled by Denis Robinson, New Holland Publishers NZ Ltd, Auckland, 2009
Articles, Radio Interviews, Television Programmes and Documentaries Featuring Sofia's Art
Artfind "Illuminate" article on Sofia Minson. May 2010.
"Canvassing the Treaty” MAORI TV documentary featuring Sofia and five other artists collaborating on artworks about the Treaty of Waitangi. 6 February 2010.
"Both Sides of the Picture". New Zealand Herald Article about Canvassing the Treaty documentary. 23 January 2010.
Front cover picture and feature article "Altruistic Artists Show Their True Colours". Life Blood Magazine. Issue 36. Pg 5. Winter 2009.
“Painting the Soul”. Her Magazine. Issue 96. Pg 106-109. October 2008.
New Zealand’s Favourite Artists 2. Minson featured in the book profiling NZ painters, pg 70-71. 2008.
MAORI TV. 1/2 hour documentary about Sofia on the arts series “Kete Aronui”. 22 April 2008.
Radio NZ National. 18 minute Nine to Noon interview with Kathryn Ryan. 17 April 2008.
“Legendary Display” Minson solo exhibition review. The Northern Advocate. 3 April 2008.
Front cover picture and feature article “My Way”. Idealog magazine. Issue 14. Pg 62-67. March-April 2008.
“Portrait of the artist as a young woman”. Shooting Star section of NZ Life and Leisure magazine. Issue 18. Pg 49-50. March-April 2008.
"All About Peace Love and Tolerance". Art News New Zealand. Summer 2008.
TV ONE. Minson’s work at the exhibition Whence We Came highlighted on the news show “Te Karere”. 6 Nov 2007.
TV TWO. Sofia and her art profiled on the show “Mai Time”. 27 Oct 2007.
TV ONE. Sofia’s solo exhibition featured on the news show “Te Karere”. 6 Oct 2007.
“Sofia Going Solo”. Mana Magazine. Issue 78. Pg 82-83. Oct-Nov 2007.
TV ONE. The tour company Potiki Adventures and Sofia Minson’s art were featured on the show “Business Is Booming”. Episode 7. 8 Sep 2007.
“Rising Star Sofia Minson”. NEXT Magazine. Pg 26-27. December 2006.
MAORI TV. 8pm. Sofia featured on the show “Tu Wera”. 15 Sep 2006.
“Art from the Soul”. Her Business Magazine. Issue 69. Pg 66-67. July 2006.
“Sofia Minson”. Nga Kohinga – New Zealand’s premier Ngati Porou magazine. Issue 10. Pg 14-15. June 2006.
“Sofia”. Spasifik Magazine. Issue 14. Pg 86-87. May-June 2006.
“Art and heart”. Mana Magazine. Issue 69. Pg 52-55. April-May 2006.
“Interpretations”. PINK Magazine. Pg 46-53. April 2006.
"Artist's win is larger than life". East & Bays Courier. October 2005.
“Tales Without Words”. BMW Magazine. Pg 98-102. Winter 2005.
"Self-taught artist wins top prize". East & Bays Courier. February 2005.
“Traversing the World Through Art”. Tu Mai: New Zealand’s Leading Indigenous Magazine. Issue 58. Pg 4-6. October 2004.