DR Tessa Laird

DR Tessa Laird


  • Art Theory and Criticism (Colour Theory, Human-Animal Relations, Theory for the Anthropocene, Decolonisation) (Ceramics, Printmaking, Pattern, Performance, Moving Image, Text-based practices, artist publications)



  • Tessa Laird is a Lecturer in Critical and Theoretical Studies (.5) at the Victorian College of the Arts. She holds three degrees in Fine Arts from the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, New Zealand. She has been a respected New Zealand art critic for over 20 years, writing for The New Zealand Listener, Art New Zealand, Art and Australia, catalogue essays and book chapters. In the 1990s she founded and edited two art magazines, Monica, and LOG Illustrated. She was the director of The Physics Room Gallery in Christchurch for two years before working in Los Angeles galleries for three years (1999-2003). From 2003 until 2012 she was a lecturer in Contextual Studies at the Manukau School of Visual Arts, University of Auckland. She was awarded her Doctorate of Fine Arts in 2012, which culminated in an exhibition and exegesis: Sheshnag’s Coloured Canopy: The Rainbow and The Kaleidoscope as Metaphor and Method. In 2013 her doctoral writing on colour was published as A Rainbow Reader by Clouds (Auckland) and she was included in the major survey exhibition Freedom Farmers: New Zealand Artists Growing Ideas at the Auckland Art Gallery. She spent 2013 and 2014 as a professional teaching fellow at the Elam School of Fine Arts before moving to Melbourne to take up a post at the VCA where she has expanded her expertise in colour theory to encompass a range of more-than-human subjectivities, including human-animal relations. She is currently writing a book on the cultural history of bats for the Reaktion Animal series.   


Selected publications


Additional Grant Information

  • Tessa was awarded a travel and personal development grant in 1999 from Creative New Zealand, and a writer's scholarship in 2015 by Creative New Zealand to complete the book BAT, for publication by Reaktion (London).    


Education and training

  • DocFA, University of Auckland 2012
  • MFA, University of Auckland 2007