Bird exhibition celebrates Puanga

By Anne-Marie McDonald

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CONSIDER THE BIRDS: From left, Diane Harries, April Pearson, Helen Budd, Cassandra Knight and Jacqui McGowan at Gallery On Guyton. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO
CONSIDER THE BIRDS: From left, Diane Harries, April Pearson, Helen Budd, Cassandra Knight and Jacqui McGowan at Gallery On Guyton. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO

The world of birds is celebrated in the latest exhibition at Gallery On Guyton.

A Bird's Eye View, which will run at the gallery until July 16, features works on a bird theme by Maiangi Waitai, Mere Keating, Di Harries, April Pearson, Helen Budd, Fiona McGowan, Jo Melville, Cassandra Knight, Lindsay Marsh and Jacqui McGowan.

Rena Star from Gallery On Guyton said the exhibition was the second of two exhibitions at the gallery celebrating Puanga [also known as Matariki], or the Maori New Year.

"Puanga offers opportunities to honour and remember loved ones who have passed on to the the next ... this year we take the opportunity to consider stories about our fine feathered friends," Ms Star said.

"For millennia artists have been inspired by the many, varied stories of birds and their inter-relationship with the human realm. We still have a lot to learn from the bird kingdom, and investigating the 'birds eye view' gives us the opportunity to be mindful of the messages that they carry for our benefit."

Many of the artists choose the theme of endangered species or threatened habitats for their works. The art is varied - from installation to paintings to photographs to mixed media.

Diane Harries' installation piece "There Used To be Enough" is a commentary on the decline in numbers of kereru, or wood pigeon. Created from handmade flax paper, copper wire and muka fibre stitching, the installation consists of hundreds of laser cut kereru shapes, hanging like a curtain in the front window of the gallery.

"The point I was making with this was that there used to be enough kereru for people to hunt them. Maori used to hunt them and come back with thousands of them to store for food over the winter - and there'd still be plenty left in the bush.

"And I wondered, where are they now?"

Helen Budd's painted and mixed media works in the exhibition reference her time working at Otago Museum.

One piece is a portrait of an albatross in flight.

"I was contracted to make fibre glass eggs for the albatrosses at Taiaroa Head," Ms Budd said.

"They used them so they could take the actual egg out and check and weigh it while the mothers sat on the dummy eggs. It was really important that the size and weight of the dummy eggs was right - if it was too light she thinks the chick has died and kicks it out of the nest, and if it's too heavy she thinks it's a stone and kicks it out of the nest.

"I had a very narrow range of weights that it could be," Ms Budd said.

Another shows a moa with its skeleton visible, which refers to Ms Budd's work piecing together a giant moa skeleton for Otago Museum.

Gallery on Guyton is open Wednesday to Saturday, from 11am to 4pm.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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