'Artist's Statement : 'Ultramarine'
Solo exhibition February 2020
“Ultramarine” refers to both ‘ultramarine blue’, a paint colour I’ve used extensively in my paintings, and to the focus on the sea. The sea is the link.
New Zealand begins with the sea and ends with the sea.
Auckland itself is an isthmus, on an island, such a narrow piece of land squeezed by two harbours lapping. St Heliers sits at the sea’s edge and faces out to Rangitoto, Browns Island, the Hauraki Gulf.
Living in Auckland, we all have a relationship with the sea. We live on islands. We are all islanders.
And so it is perhaps inevitable that it informs my work and this has had an increasing sense of urgency for me with climate change and rising, warming oceans and the myriad of interwoven consequences of this. Everything is interrelated and we are part of nature, not separate from it.
"...art is pivotal to our response to climate change.....The arts help us to feel, rather than just know about an issue. A dance, song, film or painting is experienced viscerally, activating different senses, recruiting different parts of our brain and nervous system to generate a response. An artist communicates directly with another human being." – Carla van Zon
Listen to the sea, it has something to say to you.
The ‘Soar’ Paintings
Big sky. Big sea. Big space. Big calm.
The simplicity is deliberate and its effect calming and uplifting.
This series of paintings came out of my own need for a sense of space and calm and beauty in the world, in troubled times. I began to feel overwhelmed by news of the dire state of the natural and political landscape and this series of paintings became my response- watching seabirds glide, flow and soar gives me such a feeling of space and calm. My aim is to share that same feeling with you, the viewer.
The ‘Connect’ Paintings- the snorkellers
This series of paintings is a reflection on our connection with nature.
We are part of nature, not separate from it. Everything is interconnected.
I am using the image/symbol of the snorkeller as one who is literally immersing themselves in the natural environment… and will discover a world of beauty there not visible from above.
The sea is alive.
This immersion is taken a step further through moving image* layered in to the work through augmented reality.
(* the artist’s own video).
Paper Seas. Paper Boats.
A paper boat at sea conveys an image of fragility or vulnerability effectively reminding that our seas are in need of care. An array of diatoms on the inside surfaces of the boat see it become a protective vessel, an ark.
Diatoms are small but mighty phytoplankton with beautiful shells of silica- fascinating algae that live in intricate glass houses. They play important ecological roles on a global scale as, through carbon fixation, diatoms remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere ( they take more carbon out of the atmosphere than all the world’s tropical rainforest), and they produce a significant proportion of the world's oxygen- in fact they liberate enough oxygen for our every fifth breath.
Maps and sea charts record the explored, known world reassuring us- we know where we're going. However, with climate change and warming, acidifying oceans we are currently heading in to the unknown, in to uncharted waters. Hic sunt dracones!
‘Here Be Dragons’ was marked on early maps and sea charts to signify uncharted territory, the great vast scary Unknown.
The future is unknown, uncertain, but I refuse to paint an apocalyptic vision- it will be different but it may yet be beautiful.
Sea charts are beautiful objects in themselves and each has a story to tell. I am developing a growing body of work painting and printing on to the charts, at times with native fauna and at times with my own ‘dracones’.
The dolfish becomes the artist’s AR signature, signifying the unfamiliar and what we may discover there.
Ultramarine, February 14-28th 2020, Turua Gallery, Auckland.