Alters; Aspects from La Trobe Track, Karekare (after Anita Heiss)

By | 1 August 2015

In terms of the image I’ve produced for ‘I don’t hate you, but …’ I thought a lot about the poem’s call for the reader to be self-reflective, to observe, and in particular to preach.

The stylised pōhutukawa symbolises Māori spirituality corrupted by colonial missionaries, the branches redolent of leaded church windows in reference to The Tree of Jesse from Autun Cathedral. Other artworks that inspired me were William Blake’s Hell Canto III, and John William Waterhouse’s Echo and Narcissus.

The scenes are taken from Auckland, including Karekare, the setting for many of Allen Curnow’s poems. A reference to Curnow’s ‘Spectacular Blossom’ was suggested by Robert Sullivan.

The colours, too, are symbolic: pinks for Australia’s soil and the displacement of indigenous peoples; red references both the St George flag and, with blue, my local surf life-saving club uniform. Surf life-saving slogans include ‘Between the Flags’ and ‘In it for Life’, relevant because sport is another kind of accepted ongoing crusade, but Surf Life Saving is a redeemable sport in the sense it functions to save lives rather than merely promote combat skills, having therefore the potential to teach other sports how not behave like the former British Empire.

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