Oil Pastel on Archival Paper
19.75 x 25.75 inches
Inspiration for this painting came form the landscape surrounding Gisborne, New Zealand, a remote coastal town on the Northeast coast of the North Island where my family and I lived for a year in 2014-2015. Gisborne is the site of the very first contact that took place between the native Maori people and Westerners, an event that stands as the first episode of the bloodshed that would dominate relations between these groups well into the 20th century. The landscape surrounding the river valley is comprised of beautiful sheep-infested treeless hills that show strange shadows among the sinuous ridges and sagging landslides. The valley floor was once a deep lowland jungle, but is now devoted, in a large part, to orchards, vineyards and wine production. There remains a small remnant of the old jungle just outside of town in a nature reserve called Gray’s Bush. Though small, it provides a breathtaking glimpse into this vanishing ecosystem. The ancient forest is dominated by strange podocarp trees, remnants of a forest that dates back to the time of Gondwanaland, such as the kahikatea that my trees are modeled after. Gray’s bush is the inspiration for this painting. The title, “The Reserve” is a double entendre, referring both to the nature reserve as well as the special batches of wine produced by local wineries referred to as “the reserve”.
Gray’s Bush: near the entrance.
Classic root buttresses of a Gray’s Bush podocarp.
The edge of Gray’s Bush, with a handful of the ubiquitous sheep of the area.
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