Jacqui Colley: Phenomenon

These works have been created alongside a larger project which has involved a group of thirteen New Zealand artists responding to Water and the state of the braided rivers in Canterbury. What I learnt from this research was that civilization, land, water and air are one. They are woven into a shape that we can consider as ‘us’, this place and our people. What we have done, what we do, where we do it and how we do it.

My work is most often an abstract response to place, a visceral reaction to events or activities around me. These paintings are meditations on altered nature; the spectacular blooms within riverbed sediments, contaminants seeping throughout the porous cavities of ancient reservoirs, microscopic life existing in delicate balance, while performing crucial tasks within aquifer ecosystems. Alteration to these worlds inevitably and irrevocably alters nature.

I have used aerial images from North Otago as source material to reference organic shapes; rivers which flow from the mountains to the sea, the great lakes and few remaining wetlands. With intersecting grids and lines I have mimicked the colonisation of the now mechanised land. The earth tones in the works reference the limestone, lichen and kokowai pigm ent, the red ochre, used by early Māori to draw on the rock walls of the cliffs at Takiroa near the Waitaki River. These drawings held information for fellow Māori of warnings, beliefs and the locations of provisions.