Innocenza Toritto has made art out of a rubbish situation.
Last year, Toritto spent almost six months in Australia waiting for the chance to return to Oamaru.
In mid-2021, when the transtasman bubble opened, allowing travel between Australia and New Zealand, Toritto travelled to Cairns to visit family.
What was intended as a month-long trip turned into a five and a-half month stay with her parents and siblings after the bubble closed, due to the spread of the Delta variant.
Toritto watched as the ‘‘goalposts’’ kept shifting and she was uncertain when she could return to her new life in Oamaru, where her husband, Brett Evington, was waiting for her.
‘‘Then, I had to start playing the MIQ game,’’ she said.
She was able to secure a spot in MIQ in December, spending Christmas at the facility, and returned home on New Year’s Eve.
Toritto did not return home empty-handed. To keep herself busy while in Cairns, Toritto created small trinkets using discarded items from the world around her.
Using old jewellery from her sister, bits and bobs from her mother’s driveway, plastic debris from outings, and pieces from her brother’s workshop, she created 49 trinkets as part of a series called ‘‘Discarded and Found’’.
Toritto was pulled by many things but her artwork always came back to the idea of fragility and nature.
‘‘As humans, we move around the world and I feel the same with water and plants — that whole fragile ecosystem kind of all connects somehow,’’ she said.
Born in Italy, Toritto and her family moved to Sydney when she was 7 months old.
She attended art school, gaining a bachelor of fine arts degree with a major in darkroom photography and a minor in printmaking.
Toritto spent many years as an art tutor, teaching darkroom photography, then digital imaging after her school closed its darkroom.
She also worked as a weekend manager at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum, Sydney’s oldest regional gallery, all the while practising art.
‘‘You’re always a practising artist, no matter what.’’
In a push to pursue life as a fulltime practising artist, Toritto and her husband moved to New Zealand in September 2020.
To be closer to Evington’s siblings, who lived in the South Island, the couple bought a house and set up life in Oamaru.
But Toritto felt as though she still had some settling to do.
Toritto is part of the collective at Crafted gallery in Harbour St, where her work is displayed.