Once you get past the "Wow! They look so real!", you'll be free to appreciate the stunning art of Katy Buess, now being exhibited at Fine Arts Gallery in Taupo Quay.
Leaf Lines is an unusual body of work from the Invercargill-based printmaker / painter / bookbinder / 3D artist and will be on display until September 13.
"About two and a half years ago, my husband Rob (Wait) and I went to our very first Womad and we drove the car up from Invercargill," says Katy. "Coming down from New Plymouth, really keen to have a look around galleries in Whanganui. It just seemed so friendly, accessible and so much happening, and the minute I came into this gallery I loved the space and loved the idea there was a collective working together to run the gallery. I think that's really healthy for artists to have that feedback and support."
When Katy and Rob visited, Gaynor Mulholland was on the front desk and before long they were discussing how to arrange an exhibition of Katy's work.
"I was, for many years based in Dunedin, and then, for the last 10 years in Invercargill, so I thought I really need to start showing work a little further afield."
Katy crafts paper foliage, leaves of all types from trees and shrubs common and unusual. With those leaves she creates three dimensional artworks, some delicate, others more robust.
"I decided to show a collection of work that started out in Vanuatu."
In 2008 Rob and Katy went to Vanuatu to live for two years on a Volunteer Services Abroad programme.
"I got obsessed with the croton family of plants with their bright, vibrant leaves. So I started doing some sketches and paintings, and eventually I cut out the shapes."
The next step was to make the leaves more sculptural.
Part of her motivation was to produce a lasting representation of these things of beauty.
"In the small village where I lived in Vanuatu, young women would gather flowers and leaves from the garden to make beautiful salusalu, a garland similar to lei. Whenever I received a salusalu, it would remain pinned to a wall until the leaves shrivelled up and lost their colour. While I was reluctant to discard these 'artworks' to the organic rubbish pile after a ceremony, the locals were happy to throw theirs away immediately.
"I also had the ambition to record nature. The idea to replicate leaves into artworks came about observing local flora, regional customs and museum collections. Not being allowed to take leaves back to New Zealand to document and catalogue, encouraged me to create my own paper versions."
Katy's leaves come complete with insect damage, discolouration and everything that gives their natural counterparts their interesting beauty.
Artistic freedom and the need to do more than simply replicate a natural form has led Katy to use the leaves in different ways.
"I had an Italian art teacher and she was magnificent. I kept thinking about the quatrefoil, four leaf, which is such a beautiful symbol of Italian Renaissance work and bas-relief, and it's such a strong Pasifika shape — so it went between traditional Western art and Pasifika art."
The quatrefoil features in Leaf Lines.
Katy's work on display hovers between 2D and 3D.
"It's not quite sculpture, it's not quite painting. It's combining the elements and getting a little more bolder with producing more sculptural work."
Her current work includes a vessel made of leaves, based on Six Months in a Leaky Boat and the plight of refugees committing their lives to makeshift craft.
"Also the idea of vases as vessels, whether they contain cultural material or are a vessel for travel."
Each piece symbolises something a lot deeper than its appearance suggests.
Katy also produces a range of sculptured paper brooches in leaf form.
"It's a nice way to have a miniature artwork that moves about with you and is fun to wear," she says. Some unsuspecting people try and brush away the leaf.
Leaf Lines comprises 14 pieces including two prints and the rest leaf assemblages. All bar one are for sale.