The Intimacy of Passed-Out Strangers Inspired This New Zealand Sculptor
"The Sleeping Couple" by Aimee Bartlett

The Intimacy of Passed-Out Strangers Inspired This New Zealand Sculptor

"You can just tell their love is so pure."
September 6, 2018, 2:04am

Find yourself out way too late on Auckland’s Karangahape Road, and the chances are you'll smash some Little Turkish Cafe or Lord of The Fries and hop in an Uber you might not remember in the morning. For Auckland student, painter and sculptor Aimee Bartlett, however, a drunken night out became the accidental inspiration for one of her most captivating—and sweetest—sculptures.

Somehow, Bartlett ended up at a strange couple’s apartment, crashing out on the couch while they smoked pot and chatted. Around day break, the buses started up outside the window and she decided it was time to leave.

"The Sleeping Couple"

“I went to their room to say bye and they were in bed facing each other,” Bartlett told VICE. “Obviously they had just fallen asleep mid conversation, their fingers intertwined. I thought it was a really beautiful intimate moment to witness. I decided not to wake them because they looked so peaceful, so I left without saying goodbye. I smelt like chocolate chips and vomit the whole ride home.”

VICE caught up with Bartlett to talk inspiration, death, and turning a mound of clay into an image of intimacy.


VICE: Did you ever see the couple again?
Aimee Bartlett: Yes and no, I’ve seen them around but haven’t spoken to them or told them that I made a sculpture of them. I’m not so sure they’d remember me and plus I’m a little shy when sober.

"Sugar Plum"

Do you ever look at some friends and strangers and picture them as a sculpture?
Definitely, all the time! Some of my boyfriend’s best friends are lovely together. They don’t so much kiss or cuddle in front of us but the way he cares and speaks for her is really nice. I’ve always wanted to write a little story about them and incorporate that into a painting or a sculpture.

Your work is inspired by intimacy, so how does your experience with it affect your work?
I’m so interested in what intimacy is because I love seeing it within other people and it makes me really happy. I love seeing couples holding hands or looking at each other sweetly—you can just tell their love is so pure. I was watching one of my friends at an event with her girlfriend and the way they held each other while they danced was beautiful. It just makes me happy and appreciative of my own love with my boyfriend, Elliot. It’s also really nice to see my parents hugging and kissing and going out on dates. I think it’s important seeing your mum being loved by your dad because it shows how you should be loved.

"Love is Sweet"

What are you working on at the moment?
I had been working on a sculpture of my late grandparents. My grandad passed first from bowel cancer and he suffered for a while, relying on my nana to care for him. Almost a year after he passed my nana died as well, from an aneurism in her heart, essentially heart break. I wanted to make a sculpture of them for my mother as a gift for being so strong after losing both her parents in such a short period of time.

"Nothing is Perfect"

Where do you see your work progressing?
In the future I would love to get into making real cute sex toys—I think that’s where the money’s at. When I go into sex stores I always see really funny and sometimes gross-looking Fleshlights—oh, and dildos can look so ugly! So my plan is to make them attractive so when you see them in a store, you think, "Fuck yeah, I’d pop that in my coin purse."

See more of Bartlett's work on Instagram @sorbaybe or at