Thursday, November 03, 2011

Exploring oil

Since my visit to Tauranga, I've been exploring different ways to represent the tarry black oil sheening the ocean and washing up on the beaches of Bay of Plenty. Of my five recent experiments these three are the most successful; where I was working out concentric waves, waves lapping on the shore and an oily bird.

I find images of oily birds most heartbreaking, even as I grieve for all the other sea life and human lives damaged by oil spills. Seeing their graceful shapes and light as air bodies dragged down from the sky to be found as sticky black puddles on the sand is particularly agonising.

Working with wool seems to cushion my sadness a little. I'm planning a large installation piece that both responds to Rena's oil spill and cautions against plans for deep sea drilling off New Zealand. I'd like to honour each of the species on the casualty list, many of which are rare or endangered native species including petrels, dotterels, pengins, gannets, shearwaters and terns.

My bird experiment started off with layers of blankets felted into relief (above) with feather details stitched in (below).

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