Holidays Work: Artist interview with Brendan O’Brien


Brendan O’Brien has been a major name in the Aotearoa art world for over twenty years, an artist who  specialises in hand-printed books and collage art.

At his Wellington art workshop Fernbank Studio, he creates exquisitely designed and printed handmade books and works of art. Over the years he has collaborated with some of the most important artists and authors in Aotearoa, such as Colin McCahon, Bill Manhire, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Vincent O’Sullivan and Ralph Hotere among many others.

He has also been an artist in residence at the Rita Angus Cottage in Thorndon and the Otakou Press in Dunedin. His work also includes individual prints which have been exhibited widely both here in Aotearoa / New Zealand and wider afield,  many of them finding their way into some of our countries most important art collections . These print pieces often show Brendan’s interest in the Surrealist collage technique pioneered by artists such as Max Ernst and Rene Magritte.

Brendan’s work is frequently exhibited in the Bowen Galleries in Ghuznee Street. He is currently exhibiting in a group show at the Bowen Galleries called Holidays Work which runs till the 19 February 2023. Find more information about called Holidays Work at the Bowen Galleries here.

So, when we got the opportunity to interview the Brendan about his work, we jumped at it! We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Brendan for taking the time to answer our questions, and for providing such an illuminating insight into his world and work.

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. We would like to thank Brendan for giving us his  time and such a fabulous interview.

You can hear the full interview below.

Horse with hat / Smith, Marty
“The poems in “Horse with Hat” cover family feuds; the familial effects of World War II; and horses, both in general and in poet Marty Smith s childhood experience. Some poems look at the long relationship between horse and man and the thousands of years the horse has stood as an icon of speed, power, and civilization. Her father, who made his children learn to ride bareback, is also the subject of many poems. Her family appears as characters throughout the collection, including her father and grandmother who lived on the same farm but never spoke. Illustrated by Brendan O’Brien.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Millionaire’s shortbread : poems / Duffy, Mary Jane
“”Millionaire’s Shortbread is both book and cake. Meeting at a cafe table in downtown Wellington, sustained by their favourite treat and gathering in an illustrator along the way, the poets put together this selection of their work over three years. It seemed inevitable that the book should be named after the cake, and the distinctive voices of the poets become its flavoursome ingredients. Illustrated by Brendan O’Brien. “(Adapted from Catalogue)