Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Golden Fish

Here's one of my recent paintings for the September Exhibition entitled "The Golden Fish." I spent an hour or so photographing the big fat goldfish in Laser Photos on the Strand to use for reference. That was the easy part. Getting the waterlily flowers proved more difficult as it was the end of summer and most of the blooms had finished. One of Troys workmates has a fishpond with lilies so he let me loose on them. Unfortunately the flowers were all quite far from the bank so I had to roll up my pants and wade out into the warm murky stinky water.And something slimy wriggled around my feet! Actually the flowers I picked were yellow but I painted them purple to contrast nicely with the fish.

This is a painting about global warming and the effect its having on the planets water displacement. (Yeah, deep!) Theres a lot more thinking behind it and some issues about selective breeding but I won't bore you.

One of the photos I took actually came out really well. In fact the more I look at it the more I like it. Beats the painting even.....hmmph! :(

I was back in Laser the other day looking at the fish again. One is really REALLY fat, I mean huge puku, and he was having problems swimming down to the bottom of the tank. When he stopped swimming he would turn tummy up and float all the way back to the top then start the process all over again. But........then he farted and was back to normal.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

On Saturday morning we were invited out fishing on a friend's boat. Dean picked us up and we were out on a sparkling blue ocean by about 10am. Parked at the eastern end of Whale Island I was the first to reel in a fish which I immediately recognised as a Granddaddy Hapuka. Now a Hapuka is generally a big beastie of a fish so naturally you would assume a Granddaddy one to be an extremely big beastie of a fish. Just my luck they aren't! Actually they are pathetically tiny so my first fish went back into the ocean.
Tiny fish, big gob.
Troy took this photo and you can be forgiven for criticising his photography skills. Under normal circumstances he would have moved around to a better angle and made sure his subject was well lit but to share a secret, well, he's not much of a seadog really. Actually he's a confirmed landlubber so it was a big ask just to get him to lift the camera while the boat heaved and dropped beneath him. To be honest it was a miracle he got through the day without barfing if you go by his previous performances. Good on ya mate!
The cliffs of Whale Island are beautiful sculptural forms tinted with volcanic reds and brown. Before long we started catching snapper but they were very small and only two out of the five we boated were legal size. Three lucky fish went back over the side so we up anchored and headed West towards the Matata coast. We encountered strange areas of red water, an algal bloom perhaps? Dean caught a nice snapper out of the red stuff so we hoped it wasn't a toxic algal bloom!

Below looks like something out of "X-files"...oh no, thats so 90's,.... I meant "Fringe."

As the day went on the sea got more and more calm (luckily for Troy) but alas the fishing didn't improve so we called it quits and headed home. Check out this shot of one of the "Heads" at the Heads. Aaah so thats why they call it the heads!!! It looks like a reclining woman wearing a pohutukawa bikini. If you look really hard you can see the tiny people directly below her chin.

Spring daffodils & battling blackbirds

After a week of awesome weather one starts to feel like spring is just around the corner. The appearance of daffodils and early cheer is proof. Driving to work early on in the week I noted a flush of bright yellow blooms in Warren Park on Eivers Rd. I was disgusted the next day to see almost every single flower plucked from its stalk & thrown to the ground. Which mindless bunch of Tossers was responsible I wondered? It doesn't bear dwelling on the mindset of those involved.
These Early Cheer were photographed in the Rose Gardens on Friday morning. I begin to get excited about Spring (its my favourite season) but I know its too good to be true this early, we are due for some wet weather between now and the finer days but I can handle that.

The Blackbirds are feeling the effects of the warmer weather, getting territorial over feeding rights in their worm hunting grounds. I have recently watched more than one blackbird locate a big fat juicy worm only to have it stolen by kingfishers, a rival that the Blackbirds don't bother to challenge. I wonder if worms actually taste good? Obviously I'm not about to test the theory but you would have to assume they taste good to the birds or they wouldn't eat them. I can say that they don't smell very good!

These two battled it out on the shores of the riverbank for a good minute or two!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Stephens Island Wren

I just realised its only six weeks until my exhibition at Harrisons Gallery, 15th Ave Tauranga. I am part of a 4 person exhibition including myself, Richard Smith, Graham Crow& Lisa Christiansen. I have been painting hard out for this exhibition which explains my lack of blogs lately and in fact I have hardly taken any photos for weeks!!!!

Its a weird time when you are working hard towards something like this - you spend a lot of time on your own, with your own thoughts and inspirations and to be honest it f*#ks with your head a little! I swear its not healthy for you mentally so I have promised myself a holiday after the exhibition opening before I decide to cut my ear off.

BUT heres my latest painting below, put aside for the exhibition. Its titled "Ode to the Stephens Island Wren". Here's the Inspiration behind it. The painting above is an old watercolour of the actual bird which incidentally doesn't actually feature in my painting as, for me, its more about the cat than the wren.

Ode to the Stephens Island Wren.
This painting is inspired by the tale of the Lighthouse Keepers Cat. In 1894 a lighthouse was commissioned on the rat-free Stephens Island in NZs Cook Strait. Lighthouse keeper David Lyall took up residence with his cat Tibbles and before long the cat began bringing in tiny bodies of a golden brown bird. Lyall sent one to the ornithologist Walter Buller who pronounced the bird a previously unknown species of flightless wren. Tibbles subsequent victims were sold to a curio dealer by the name of Travers who recognized the economic value of the species and it is rumoured he put a price tag of fifty pounds on a single bird. In less than a year the cat ceased to bring any more wrens to the lighthouse keepers’ door and after 1895 they were never seen again. Thus the extinction of a whole species was attributed to a single cat.

In reality the birds’ demise was due to more than just Tibbles. The wrens natural habitat was ravaged as the island was cleared to support a farm and there was actually quite a population of wild cats on the Island. Ironically professional collectors also competed with the cats in their haste to procure specimens of the only known flightless passerine before they were all gone.
Interestingly enough, fossil remains of the Stephens Island Wren (named Traversia Lyalli) were later discovered on the mainland and it appears the species was once widespread until the introduction of the Kiore, the Pacific Rat which arrived with the Maori.
No matter which version is closer to the truth, the fact remains that a wonderfully unique species was both discovered and lost to the world within the space of a year. To me the Lighthouse Keepers Cat is one single animal symbolizing the destructive powers of its whole race. Then again, perhaps it is even more than that, perhaps it symbolizes all the introduced animals and havoc they have wreaked on our native wildlife.
In my painting I used a friends’ cat “Ollie” as my model. A big bruiser of a beast he had the perfect air of smugness about him. I kind of regard cats the same way I regard Humans - the individuals I know are wonderful but as a collective race they are hugely destructive and the planet would be better off without them!
I purposefully left out any of the actual wrens – after all they are extinct! Look closer at the cat and you’ll see a small brown feather on his chin.