My earliest forebears packed up large families and travelled across the world to an unknown land – New Zealand.
I can only imagine images they had in their minds of the destination that led them to leave behind all they had ever known. If the romantic paintings of colonial artists are indicative, the images might have included manicured green fields, strange beautiful people, exotic trees and tropical flowers. Instead, on arrival my great-great grandparents most likely encountered a dark looming dripping forest, and a feeling perhaps of fear and foreboding.
A winter walk in the Waitakere ranges, while immensely beautiful, can readily recreate this emotion. Unlike the subdued landscapes of the East, the west coast is harsh and beautiful, the forest visceral, less amenable to taming. Small houses and townships tuck in the bush. Difficult to see unless you are upon them, their very existence seems precarious. I imagine if humans disappeared the green would swiftly obliterate the structures, the vines and ferns would smother the human presence, the birds and insects would create new homes in the foreign materials.
Perhaps because of this train of thought the colour green, literal and metaphoric, has been infusing my work. Green brings its mixed history to the palette. The colour of danger, of the supernatural is also the colour of hope and restoration. The greens of this body of work are of the untamed west coast - the myriad greens of wild places, of trees and rainforest. As in a planet after humans have gone, the signs and mechanisms of human control are missing. The tree stumps so evocative in colonial paintings are towered over by their seedlings, the axes have rotted, and structures exist as fragile vestiges – perhaps of an abandoned presence.
A Note on Trees
Almost subconsciously this exhibition has become a tribute to trees. Trees were around millions of years before we existed. They create our climate and the oxygen we breathe. They effortlessly interconnect with each other and support countless living creatures - providing the spiritual centre for human stories of life and creation. Looking after the trees of Aotearoa is one of the most important and beautiful things we can do for our health and for the future of our fragile planet.
I am pleased that for every work sold at this exhibition $10.00 will go to ‘Trees that Count’ to plant a native tree on your behalf.
Immerse yourself in the tranquil greenness of the gallery and write a love letter to a tree – these will be posted on the gallery wall. One lucky writer will receive a native tree seedling.
Opening event Saturday 13th August, 11am - 3pm.