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Exegesis - Last Stand, 1940s

Fig. 6. Last Stand. 2005. 2-D to 3-D progression

photo by Thomas McQuillan

The key concept within the piece is the duel between nature and culture, and the way New Zealand as we believe it to be - clean, green and 100% pure - is essentially an invention. The expression of these concepts begins with the drape of the garment. Done in a loosely ‘forties style, with broad shoulders (heralding a masculine, WWII, military look), narrow hips, and a cropped jacket - this shape is intended to be reminiscent of a general ‘forties shape, however not a direct replica of any particular style. The aim is to suggest, not dictate. The dress under the jacket was draped to be as feminine as possible with in the constraints of the length of fabric available. The cropped jacket was draped in a more aggressive style, with doubled layers of fabric over the shoulders to accentuate that area. The intention was to have a feminine dress, partially concealed by a masculine, almost warlike jacket, and yet to still resemble a ‘forties women’s ensemble. This was done to memorialize the battle between Nature (feminine) and Culture (masculine), and to reflect the dominance of mankind over nature that occurred in New Zealand. The drape allows for the placement of embellishment in such a manner that reflects this conflict. For example, embellishments relating to nature and New Zealand’s purity can be placed beneath the jacket, so as they are only visible upon the removal of the jacket. However, the problem is, although appearing to be separate, the jacket is still attached to the dress, so cannot be removed, reflecting the way these two concepts - Nature and Culture - are linked within New Zealand history and society. The placing of the ‘black singlet’ within the feminine/ nature, part of the drape, is to communicate the way rural New Zealand (as represented by the Black Singlet), is considered an intrinsic part of the clean green 100% pure New Zealand nature mantra. However the treatment of the singlet – layered with ‘scales’ of oak trees - reflects my view that this is an elaborate myth, one sustained by the extensive deforestation of New Zealand’s native bush for farming and the culturally desired myth of New Zealand.

Print The two predominate all over repeat prints that form the basis of the double sided drape are; an illustration of a slash and burned landscape, where the trees drip into each other like wax and the landscape continues into the distance, and a traditional English floral motif, taken from a 19th century tourism book on New Zealand, and repeated into a traditional wallpaper print. These two prints contrast the methods and the intentions of colonists as they transformed New Zealand’s landscape. The aim was to turn New Zealand into an antipodean Britain, and the process was the violent destruction of the majority the existing bush. The analogy is that colonists aimed to strip New Zealand of its old wallpaper and then apply their own in the colour and style they chose. The sad fact is that this new wallpaper has been totally accepted by modern New Zealanders as what was always there. The Burning Land/Last Stand print was designed to be slightly topographical in style, similar to Coastal profiles from Mt. Egmont to Queen Charlotte Sound by Charles Heaphy. However instead of the sanitised views Heaphy and similar artists produced, this is a slightly creepy, even skeletal

First Son: Memory and Myth, an adjustment of faith  
First Son: Memory and Myth, an adjustment of faith  

First Son is an exploration of cultural change in New Zealand from the 1940s till the 1980susing textiles as medium for communication. It ai...

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