On a sun-drenched summer’s day in a sheltered Rakino Island bay, sparkling waters beckoned. Snorkel in hand, Clevedon based artist Katie Blundell ventured beneath the surface. To begin with it was alluring – her perception of the seascape was partially driven by her expectations. After the initial excitement of seeing the swish of a single fish, she began to wonder where the rest of the sea creatures were?
Returning to the studio the niggling feeling remained, all was not as good as it should be. Her go-pro images of mud and no fish were concerning. Artists excel at actual looking. Imagination then forms part of the business of enquiry. Intuition and curiosity drive the research, as well as prompt questions. Questions about the world that cannot always be rationalised.
The idea of what it could be or what Blundell would like to see became the direction for this body of work. Bright coral, mussels and crabs roving through entangled seaweed, crystal clear water, all sourced from old books and fantasy. The resulting paintings and woodcut prints present an idyllic view. Yet step closer, you are invited to put your head under the water to see what’s really happening. There amongst the unsettling spaces, the claustrophobic and colourful atmosphere, lurks an unhappy fish and too many kina eating out the kelp forests leaving barren rock where little can survive. The networked ecology is out of kilter.
The investigation and research for Blundell is ongoing. We will have to see where this enquiry takes her, it feels like the beginning of something bigger. Katie can recall her childhood days when snapper was so plentiful her Dad would ask, ‘fish or snapper for dinner’?
An established painter and printmaker, Blundell’s loose yet confident brush work brings an energy to the paintings. Utilising her heightened sense of colour, they tantalisingly draw you in.
The detail in the woodblocks with layers of colour is masterful. Woodcutting is one of the earliest, simplest – but most effective – methods of printing. At a time when almost any effect can be digitally mimicked and created, there’s much to be said for the painstaking labour and ink-covered process of this technique.
Using curves and gently overlapping layers, made up from earthy tones of terracotta, green, muted blues and orange, Blundell creates space and depth. While more subdued in colour compared to her paintings, these hues emit a certain radiance and show off the physicality of the printing process.
View the work here
Katie will be leading an adult Woodcut Printmaking Workshop, ‘Fish or Snapper?’ on Saturday 9 July, 10am -3pm. There are limited places available. To book please phone or text 021 419 292 or email email@example.com.
Come in to enjoy and reflect on our precious Hauraki Gulf that needs us all to reconsider our contribution.
Exhibition runs from 7 - 19 July 2022