Acrylic on Canvas.
330 x 650mm
Gliding along the margin of sea and sky I watch a gentle breeze ripple across the surface. Ahead, the islands are illuminated with vibrant umbers and reds, glowing in the crisp morning light. The bush is bursting with song and the hum of cicadas. Pohutukawa roots encompass the islands like giant spiders.
Beneath the wind and waves rocky towers soar and seaweeds sway to the rhythm of the ocean. Fish dart from one safe haven to the next while others travel in the safety of schools. The spiny crayfish peer out of secret nooks amongst rocky gardens while stingrays gracefully skim the ocean floor.
You’d be forgiven if you thought sea kayaking on the waters of the Te whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve was peaceful. All around are awe inspiring views, enough to keep an artist occupied for decades. However if you watch closely all is not what it seems. The reserve is a very dynamic place. At any given moment there is a battle of life or death being played out. In the same moment a new life may just be beginning.
The reserve was established in 1992 because of the rich and varied habitats along the coastline and offshore islands. Many varieties of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and plants thrive amongst the rocky reefs and soft sandy bottoms. After a couple of decades without fishing and the opportunity to regain the natural balance of the ecosystems, life inside the reserve is in abundance. There are substantially more fish and crayfish inside the reserve than out and a lot more bigger fish.
This series of paintings is a celebration of our spectacular coastline and the marine life which it supports. They are the images that come to mind when I think about my time on the water guiding kiwis and foreigners alike into the treasure that is our marine reserve.
Free of charge within New Zealand.