In 2009 I completed the Painter’s Studio course at Artstation in Ponsonby, Auckland (now called Studio One), taught by Matthew Browne and Kathryn Stevens. During this year I researched climate change and global warming with the aim of incorporating this topic into my paintings. I wanted to explore how, as an artist doing primarily abstract works, I could respond to concerns about the environment and express this in my work. It was an overwhelming topic which provided interesting but somewhat alarming reading. To make sense of it, I looked at what other artists had done in this area, weather patterns and how they are depicted, and how scientists describe the different parts of our world.
Over the year I did a series of paintings each inspired by the different “spheres” used to describe parts of our environment:
Cryosphere – the portions of the Earth’s surface where water is in solid form – sea ice, lake ice, snow, glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets.
Troposphere – lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Biosphere – the regions of the Earth’s crust and atmosphere occupied by living organisms.
Anthrosphere – the part of the environment that is made or modified by humans for use in human activities.
There were four large paintings for each sphere and a series of three smaller works for each sphere.
In Troposphere, twisting and turning weather map symbols suggest the fluctuating climate and a narrow silver circle symbolises the thin layer of gases that surround our planet.
Cryosphere features a map of Antarctica, it’s edges only lightly defined in pencil, blurred and indistinct as ice sheets become more vulnerable to warmer temperatures.
I did a large series of small works inspired by Antarctica and the Arctic. I found this such a fascinating area that I am still exploring this theme in more recent works. Unfortunately New Zealand has suspended its programme which sent artists to Antarctica.
In Biosphere a tree disintegrates into a complex background. I was thinking of the debates and controversy about increasing deforestation globally when I painted this.
Anthrosphere is filled with the fiery warmth of the sun and echoes of man-made structures.