Tiritiri Matangi, an island near Auckland, is a wildlife sanctuary. The island has no rodents, so rare ground-nesting birds thrive here. The pink, white and yellow clamshells on some of the beaches are so numerous that the beach appears pink. Nearly all the shells are broken fragments, and the wave motion, which tumbles the many-sided and colourful fragments up and down the beach, constantly polishes the sharp corners. In ancient Pacific cultures, a shell is often represented by a triangle, which I have referenced in the three-sided tesserae of this panel. The curved and cut lines suggest the rolling motion of the shell fragments carried by waves along the shifting tideline.
The Oceania Series of Vermeer reliefs
Rebecca Newnham 2020
The Vermeer series is a series of curved relief panels. Their reflective glass surfaces refract the room or the environment so that the viewer’s perception switches between the image and the reflection. Each piece starts by painting onto glass with enamels, which is then fired to fix the pigments into the glass. The glass is then cut and collaged to create a faceted, pixilated image. The shape of each Vermeer is a shallow, tensioned curve, like the lens of the eye.
The Oceania series is a group of works that reflect a trip to Tokyo and to Auckland early in 2020. Most have a relationship to water – either a beach, a lake, or the ocean – and to the natural and spiritual world. As Covid-19 was taking hold and the virus spread, they served to emphasise the value of the fiercely protected, unspoilt natural beauty of New Zealand and the restraint, focus and social consciousness of Japanese society at a time when the whole world is looking closely at itself and revaluating.
Medium: Enamelled glass, timber
Dimensions each: 920 x 920x 100mm