These paintings are a eulogy to the coastal region of the Rakaia River, an area populated by stones of great and subtle beauty.
Rakaia Huts (north branch) in Canterbury is where my heart and soul reside; it is a place that has penetrated deep into my psyche. I have spent countless hours playing in the riverbed and on the beach. It is the source of my creativity; this coastal environment informs the deep recesses of my imagination. In turn this is the territory I explore and play with in my work, it is an ongoing voyage of discovery.
At first glance the riverbed and shingle beach appear to be a vast expanse of grey, the famous Canterbury ‘Greywacke’. On closer inspection however these ‘plain’ rocks reveal themselves in all their variety of shape, colour and texture. I like the idea that they can be seen as so simple and prosaic and yet they are immensely complex and subtle and usually taken utterly for granted. Rocks are endlessly fascinating, containing so much accumulated information about time and travel, each tells its own unique story. Theirs is a visual history mapped by the colours, texture and shapes of each piece.
When river levels are normal you can float on your back and listen to the stones rolling along as they travel down to the coast, these form the shingle beach which is the natural barrier holding back the sea. I haven’t heard those stones rolling for many years now, the lagoon is rising higher and higher and the bank is eroding.
In these paintings the stones are still dancing and weaving their way down to the sea. Sadly like so much of our world it is an area under threat, rapacious use of water and the onset of dairy farming are placing huge pressure on the water systems of the Canterbury Plains. The Rakaia is no exception, the riverbed is drying up and it is only a matter of time, if things continue on the present path before the whole system is polluted.
So the stones of Rakaia take on another life on canvas, dreaming and glowing in an ‘Other World’.