Following his two previous sell-out exhibitions with Artis Gallery
which explored exotic and native plant, animal and insect species
Hamish Foote alongside friend and fellow artist, Bronwynne Cornish, now
turns to extinct birds.
Again utilising the egg tempera medium he works on totara panels
depicting the native New Zealand eagle, the Haast Eagle. This was the
largest eagle in the world with an estimated wingspan of three meters,
these were terrifying creatures preying on moa and humans for food.
Foote paints the birds, as they would have been in their
natural habitat having visited the limestone caves in North Canterbury
where rock drawings show this gigantic bird in flight.
In contrast, Foote has painted delicate works of moa bones and
a single huia feather against an oak grain reproduced in paint from a
17th century piece of antique furniture. Despite the fact that these
artefacts are all that remain of these birds they are still able to
convey a presence and beauty through Foote’s paintings.
Sharing an interest in extinct species, Bronwynne Cornish has
created her own artefacts in ceramic. A series of boxes with moa bones,
skulls and claws resting atop them have a look of a museum specimens
about them but with closer inspection one realises they are hand made,
each piece being kiln-fired 4- 5 times to achieve the finish desired by
Cornish has also made a series of Owl Jugs based on the
Laughing Owl. The distinct call of the Laughing Owl was last heard in
the South Island in 1914. Capturing the quirkiness of the owl face
these convey the characterfulness of the birds contrasting with the
menacing Eagle Jugs also in the exhibition.