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Jessica Ellis - "Ecophobia" 2016

Iconic Kauri Trees in the Spotlight - Kauri/Native Tree Series      Aspects of the environment have been at the forefront of topical issues since the outing of ...

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Iconic Kauri Trees in the Spotlight – Kauri/Native Tree Series     

Aspects of the environment have been at the forefront of topical issues since the outing of Agent Orange in the 1970’s, the discovery of a disappearing ozone layer and the stark reality of global warming since the millennia. Many other enigmatic environmental problems have arisen during and since this period not the least being Kauri Die back disease. While this issue is not confined to New Zealand, the Kauri is arguably one of New Zealand’s most iconic and revered assets, steeped in the annuls of New Zealand History. Jessica Ellis states…”The title of this show Ecophobia in this context means “a broad fear of environmental deterioration, environmental problems, and the natural world in general”. In order to create the full story (or message), I mimic society’s fear of confronting the negative effects it is having on the planet and the imperative that it change its ways”.

Jessica Ellis, a recent graduate from Whitecliffe, presents a dynamic array of Tondos (circular shaped paintings) depicting stark nocturne like silhouettes of the Kauri and other native trees for this second solo exhibition. The trees are largely viewed from below, stretching up to a wide and arresting dark canopy, revealing a skyscape reminiscent of an Aurora Australis (The Southern Lights). This is appropriate imagery, with pinks, reds, greens and blacks embedded in a highly lacquered overglaze finish, employed to highlight a phenomena such as this crushing threat to our native forests.

Ellis says “Trees of a variety of different ages, shapes and moods have been selected from all over New Zealand for the silhouette overlay on each painting. The magnificent Kauris are iconic to New Zealand, the giants of our land; they are intricate, yet strong; they are full of history and mana, yet fragile. Currently they are under attack from the dreaded fungus, Kauri Die Back Disease, and they are slowly being killed off. At this point it seems there is no definitive cure or way to stop this tragedy”.

Ellis is also concerned not just with this symptom of our global problems but the overall environment which is suffering under the strain an ever expanding population. “Kauri trees could be a metaphor for our planet and I use Kauri Die Back Disease as an uncomfortable metaphor for our very survival if drastic action is not undertaken very soon”, states Ellis. “While not a scientist, I am passionate about what science is and what it does; I combine this with my passion for the planet and art to create a body of work which I believe is topically, artistically and
scientifically intricate”.

Text: Warwick Henderson July 2016

     You can also view the exhibition via the Virtual Gallery-link here


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