Mary McFarlane

For background on the artist and works, see below.

Current Works

About the Artist

Over the past decades, Mary McFarlane has developed a strong following among collectors for her transformations of mirrors, especially vintage pieces, into glimmering artworks full of mystery and memory, intensely personal to herself and to the viewer. These have become increasingly minimalist, often using the weather itself, incoming storms, to etch patterns into the silvering of pristine mirrors using her very own evolved techniques. Some works centre on the Waterfall motif, largely founded in trips to Fiordland throughout her life, as a child, adult and more recently on projects as an invited artist; these connect to New Zealand’s history of contemporary art from William Hodges’ 18th Century Fiordland paintings through to Colin McCahon’s influence on the waterfall becoming part of our visual identity. She has also continued her acclaimed Moon series works, based on the feeling the full moon inspires when it rises at certain times of the year, enormous and mystical, full of portent. Sometimes these feature a sublime corona of pure gold dust worked around the moons, inspired by the light of a brilliant sunshower. McFarlane recently participated in the Meretoto/Ship Cove project with The Diversion Gallery, responding to the place of most sustained contact between Māori and Cook, particularly resulting in works related to the Transit of Venus. A graduate of the University of Canterbury (1986) and later the prestigious RMIT in Melbourne, Mary McFarlane has become best known for her work on vintage mirrors, carrying layers of meaning embedded in the history and forms of the mirrors themselves. Her actual process remains as mysterious as the moons themselves, as David Eggleton described in a review in Art New Zealand in 2012: ‘McFarlane has learnt how to endow her mirrors with magic, alluding to the aura of inner beauty, to the dark side of the self.’ McFarlane has featured in several public gallery exhibitions including an installation Hikoi at the Wellington Museum of City and Sea and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Recent Works

McFarlane has painted into vintage and antique mirrors for over three decades, transforming the surface into rivers of light. The Silent Order fossil concretions she has made behind the scenes for several years, exhibited in China but not in New Zealand: these are created into shrine-like forms holding meditative space, from fossilised shells and crab carapaces, the mudstone and sand aggregating around their forms over centuries or millennia, now assembled with a minimum of concrete holding together the concretions.

Several of the 2021 works were created with the help of the weather. Ahead of forecasted storms, McFarlane prepares the silver surface on the back of the vintage mirror, and places it out in the elements. The curved patterning of In the Weather is from the wind pushing the spattering rain across the surface.

The two new My Horizon works suggest a shift in her subject and evolution of process, a suggestion of place. One uses three different kinds of gold leaf as well as oil into the surface behind the bevelled edge mirror; the viewer is still a part of the work, reflecting thought. My Horizon II takes a new path, into minimalism, so the world it creates is more visible at night, than day, or catching the viewer by surprise at an oblique angle.

It is difficult to capture the glistening detail, the gold dust, the nuances of cascades suggested rather than defined, in photographs; these images here can only be approximations. We can provide further images to give a better impression of the work for those who are unable to visit and view this dream-filled exhibition first hand.


A recent suite of miniatures captures the ephemeral quality of her large works in pieces that are like jewellery for the walls.

Please contact us to confirm current prices: most prices are posted at the time of exhibition, and may be revised as the artists' values increase.