‘Songs of the Land’

New Zealand music month celebrates New Zealand music and the people who make it.

In tune with the month of New Zealand music I chose to share in this celebration with my exhibition ‘Songs of the Land’. This was at Gallery De Novo, Dunedin in May and at Eastern Southland Gallery in Gore in August.

As an ‘en plein air’ painter I spend many hours in the wilds of Aotearoa and have had the opportunity to observe both the obvious and more subtle sounds of the land, and the creatures who inhabit these places.

I chose to use guitars as my canvas, recognising and honouring their ubiquitous nature in New Zealand music – their portability and adaptability. I also wanted to go underneath into the hidden space of the instrument and use that inner more secret space to reflect the quiet watchfulness and often indifference to us, of much of the natural world and her wild creatures.

This transformation of the guitar into a light mimics the light thrown on these songs of the land. The Kakapo booming for a partner; the lone Ti Kouka clapped by its mates; the gargantuan inhabitants of the deep, the whales and their secret communications; the flight of the bumblebee, so wild and erratic to us watching. And all the time the Toroa / Albatross continues to depart on huge voyages out to sea and then back home, repeating the rhythms and creating patterns over and over again.

They all ask us to listen more closely and carefully to the rhythms and patterns of the earth. This earth itself that makes its own music, its own hum, a constant pulsing note inaudible to the human ear.

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