Sonja Drake’s current body of work focuses on the earth in moments of transition and transformation. She seeks to reveal the precarious line that divides creation and destruction. A sense of complexity is bought out through the way the medium itself is made to behave, the way the pigment moves on the surface as paint is applied in many layers, building up texture, then glazed to create depth.
The work is inspired by the natural world on both the mega and the micro scale. “I develop visual narratives as I paint, which reflect my interest in the state of the natural world in the current geological age, the period during which human activity has had significant global impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. On the micro scale I consider the impact of environmental stressors on gene expression and how this manifests in humanity.”
While observing the complexity of the natural world Sonja reflects on the interrelatedness of everything in the environment including us, and the tenuous and delicate balance of life.
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.