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“I look at images in an attempt to understand what I can’t read”

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2016 winner of the Janet Law Scholarship is Zoe Knighton, an Honours Diploma student and graduate of The Learning Connexion (TLC), and oil painter from the sunny seaside town of Plimmerton.

Carrying a student loan from an earlier design degree in fashion, Zoe works nights and weekends making coffee as a barista for the local café crowd. Winning the scholarship whilst studying at The Learning Connexion has given her the opportunity (and financial relief), to further her interest in art and follow her dream of becoming a fulltime artist.


Zoe Knighton Diploma


Fascinated by people she uses them purely as subjects through which to express thought provoking feelings about human society and the world in which we live. You can see Zoe’s artwork is highly personal. It deals with ideas about vulnerability, anger and unease. Yet whilst her art could be easily mistaken for portraiture, it is not.

“I’m inspired to make art because I want to express and communicate ideas about human interaction and society. Being dyslexic I look at images in an attempt to understand what I can’t read. Creating art has become my way of communicating and expressing my opinions and feelings.”

Zoe’s work reflects her cultural identity as a New Zealand white, middleclass female. Dealing with issues that are often overlooked or ignored in mainstream culture. It is a visual commentary that voices what society can, and does, do to an individual.

As an artist, Zoe draws viewers’ attention to issues that incite and invite discussion. She creates works that don’t sit passively within a room, but rather unsettle as well as intrigue viewers. Images have tension, a sense of unease. They juxtapose the mundane with the unexpected and it is this that holds your attention. You want to know more.


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Zoe Knighton 2 Zoe Knighton


Winning the Scholarship has been a great source of confidence to Zoe as there was, in her opinion, some pretty stiff competition from talented artists and close friends. Before studying at TLC Zoe hadn’t touched a paintbrush since high school. It was through their flexible class structure that she was able to easily transition from her initial goal of simply getting better at drawing, and moving to oil painting.

“To be given the opportunity to do what I love with the support and encouragement of people who haven’t met me, but connected to my art means a lot. Having people who believe in you is important.”

A worthy recipient of the Janet Law Scholarship, Zoe plans to spend another year as a TLC student. Continuing to work hard and develop creatively as an artist. The last two years she has been selected to exhibit works in the launch of the 2015 NZ Art Show, selected as a finalist for the 2015 Cliftons Art Prize and for the Student Award for Emerging Artists in the 2014 NZ Art Show. She has also won Viewers’ Choice Award in the 2015 Friends of Pataka Art Award and People’s Choice Award six times! at TLC’s in-house student exhibitions.

These achievements are a strong testament to the high quality of work Zoe achieved at TLC and shows a commendable work ethic. It is clear she is well on her way to fulfilling her ambition to become a fulltime professional artist. Watch this space.



The Janet Law Scholarship
Administered by the Janet Law Charitable Trust, the Janet Law Scholarship provides full or part tuition fees for one successful art student. Janet Law passed away in November 2010 while studying art in her first year of TLC’s Advanced Diploma Programme. Her family chose to honour her memory by providing a student with the same opportunity. The focus of Janet’s artwork dealt with themes of cultural identity. Students applying for her 2016 scholarship were asked to submit work that could also be viewed in a cultural, social or political context. 

To find out more about the Janet Law Scholarship, what other scholarships are available, and how to apply for one, visit www.tlc.ac.nz/enrolment/scholarships or call 0800 ART POWER (0800 278 76937)


  • Nan
    20/01/2016 12:28pm (8 years ago)

    I love the paintings of feeling and the light on the people's faces. lovely work.