Becoming – Pakeha: questioning the use of native birds in representation as a means of exploring New Zealand post-settler identity in visual art
The depiction of birds by artists such as Don Binney, Bill Hammond, Michael Parekowhai and Grant Whibley has served as metaphors in the conceptual systems of post-settler New Zealanders’ expression of identity. This project investigated unease in New Zealand post-settler identity and its dislocation from the past by considering works depicting native birds. Is depicting native - rather than introduced birds, an incongruous and romantic settler iconography in identity, leading to a re-telling of our place in this land at the expense of not only the rightful indigenous place of Maori, but of our own cultural becoming? By exploring the painting of birds as metaphors of New Zealand post-settler identity, the project aimed to contribute to the complex issues surrounding the entwined and entangled post-settler relationships of both the past and present. This painting project investigated these issues through the medium of oil paint, culminating in a body of artwork presented in an exhibition with an accompanying exegesis representing 20% of the work.