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Original Etching:
"Flax Pods"
NZ Phormium Sp.

"This is a remarkable species, peculiar to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. Like the Cabbage Tree, it forms a distinct and unmistakeable feature of the New Zealand landscape.

"It is totally unlike the Flax-plant known to Europeans, though the two may be compared in the strength and usefulness of their fibres. The farmer is never in want of a piece of twine with a flax bush growing near his home. He has merely to take one of the long leaves, and tear a strip from it, and he holds in his hand a piece of string that it is almost impossible to break."

Laing and Blackwell - Plants of New Zealand.

The flowers of the flax plant are carried on tall stems 6 to 8 feet long, with branchlets carrying an array of flowers along each branch. When the flowers die and the seed pods are formed they are dark and shiny and about 3 inches long.   As everything dries out, the whole head becomes a great pattern of twisted, dark, almost mediaeval shapes - quite fascinating. I have tried to capture that feel here.

Flax fibre formed a very important resource for the Maori people. They developed a method for extracting the pure, white fibre from the leaves and they span and wove that for many uses. The leaves themselves were also used and woven for many household items and for the taniko weaving patterns that line the interior walls of their important buildings.

I took a course in etching at the Waikato Society of Arts in Hamilton in 1986 and this study of the seedpods of Phormium tenax is one of the etchings I did as part of the requirements.

I have not previously shown this piece.

You can now buy Cards, Giclee Prints and Framed Prints of this work:



 


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