Sonja Drake

Sonja Drake’s current body of work reflects an interest in the complexity of the natural world on both the macro and the micro-scale. The current geological age, the Anthropocene, has seen human activity have a significant global impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. On the micro-scale, she considers the impact of environmental stressors on gene expression and how this manifests in humanity. Seeking to reveal the precarious line that divides creation and destruction she aims for a balance between fragility, strength and beauty. Approaching the act of painting as an invocation, elements are bought together to create a visually intricate web that binds various elements into a layered whole.

Within the context of ‘The World In a state of Environmental Emergency’ there is an awakening awareness on a global scale around issues such as global warming, the burning of fossil fuels, excessive consumption of meat, biodiversity shrinking at an unprecedented rate, the ethics of the treatment of animals and the chemical poisoning of the environment over the past century, and the impact of this on all living creatures. 

While observing the complexity of the natural world she also reflects on the interrelatedness of everything in the environment - all energy and matter, and the tenuous and delicate balance of life.

“In nature, nothing exists alone” (Carson, R. 1962. Silent Spring)

Ferric Coruscation, the title of her new body of work, here refers to the process of oxidisation of iron, as it rusts and breaks down, as a metaphor for the cycle of life, and the beauty in decay as elements change and shift into new forms. As a young child growing up across the road from the wild surf beach at Tora, in the South Wairarapa, I was intrigued by the rusting wreck of the SS Opua, shipwrecked in 1926, lodged on the rocks among the breakers just offshore.