Nic Moon – Tributary – 8 March-2 April, 2016

NMinstall-1smallRivers, bones, flax, insects, leaves, traces.
Light, shadow, cut metal, silhouette, pattern, history.

The focus of Nic Moon‘s work is human ecology and the ways that people interact with the environments in which they live. Tributary includes sculpture and painting in an elegant installation that explores the theme of traces – in the natural world and in us.

NMdung5NM11dung01  Watercolour (Dragonfly), by Nic Moon, cow dung and water on board, 900 x 1040mmNMdung2Watercolour (Mayfly), by Nic Moon, cow dung and water on board, 900 x 1040mmFiordland: A Blanket for Richard Henry, by Nic Moon, harakeke, wool, possum fur, skulls of rats, mice & stoats, 3000 x 1700mm


                           Fiordland – A Blanket for Richard Henry
“The skeleton of a blanket or rain-cape.
Made with harakeke from the Templeton Flaxmill Heritage Museum.
Richard Henry died in the early 1900s, having spent 14 years alone in Fiordland’s remote Dusky Sound attempting to save the endangered flightless Kiwi and Kakapo from recently introduced stoats, weasels and ferrets. He caught NMcloak-smallbirds on the mainland using a muzzled dog, rowing them to predator-free Resolution Island in wild and often treacherous conditions.  Disappointed, he abandoned his project when he found a stoat had swum to the island, indicating that the expanse of water was not wide enough to stop the recently released invaders.

In 2009 I spent nine months in Southland as the William Hodges Fellowship Artist in Residence.  I was invited to join a group of scientists, traveling by boat for ten days to Dusky Sound in a remote south-western corner of Fiordland.  They had spent years experimenting with removing introduced mammals from remote islands in order to create sanctuaries for our endangered flightless birds. During this trip Bruce Thomas offered me his collection of 1000 skulls, collected over the course of his thirty-year career.  Each skull was numbered and a record made of its location and date of capture. 

The scale of this work was inspired by the waterfalls of Dusky Sound, painted by William Hodges in the late 1700’s while aboard Captain Cooks ship the Resolution.  The weaving techniques are a combination of European lace making and weaving techniques used for piano runners in the 1800s, and Maori rain-cape techniques. Richard Henry realised that his Irish wool and oilskin were useless in the wet conditions of Dusky Sound, and wished that he had a rain cape.”   Nic Moon

Ancestor, by Nic Moon, hand plasma cut powder-coated steel lawnmower catcher with internal light box, 450 x 470 x 300mmNMkohi2NMkohi1










Tissue Memory
Backbone, Ancestor, Skeleton and Kōhī
Morrison lawn mower catchers and steel.
Leaf skeleton or vein patterns from indigenous plants.

“For twenty-five years I have felt compelled to live within the breath of the Southern Alps, a long snowy mountain range created by the violent upthrust of an earthquake fault.  This relationship began for me while I was an art student at Canterbury University.

For the first ten years of my career I worked from a studio beside the Nelson Lakes National Park, in the remote alpine settlement of St Arnaud.

Golden light in the tussock-clad mountain-tops, snowy peaks rolling endlessly into the distance, and vertical shafts of light streaming down through tall trees remain firmly in my tissue memory.  The spring-fed stream at the back fence provided drinking water.  It was also the Alpine Fault Line.

The many small rural towns that are nestled into the foothills of the Southern Alps have provided inspiration for these works.  In these places people labour to transform and tame the wilderness that surrounds them.  My experience is more one of the transformative marks left in my own tissue memory by an ecosystem with an incredibly strong life-force.”   Nic Moon