KIWI and ITALIAN THEMES MAKE POWERFUL STATEMENT
REVIEW: Rise, an exhibition by Sally Burton. Red Art Gallery until August 9. Reviewed by Gail Tresidder


Having regarded the extinction of many New Zealand birds as inevitable, Walter Buller, ornithologist, personally captured hundreds of huia for specimens, later in life having a change of heart and campaigning for wildlife reserves in our offshore islands.

Unfortunate in having beautiful black and white tail feathers, favoured by Maori as a sign of prestige and also by European settlers for hat decoration, it was too late for this lovely bird, declared extinct in 1907.

Of the 18 paintings in this exhibition, Flight Path is the bravest and most unsettling. Female huia bird heads with their curved beaks, seemingly only loosely attached to wings on which rest golden eggs with body parts of red/pink colour, become a poignant reminder of what we have so thoughtlessly lost. It's not pretty but it's powerful.

In contrast, Overland, a tenderly executed landscape at the base, cliffs and bay of shimmering blue overhung by a delicately floating white cloud at the top, with its warm gorgeous ochres and soft green and lilac touches, is pure elegance.

Demanding attention and hung for maximum viewing room, the 1.6 square metre painting, Float, encapsulates all of the artist's skill and experience and may turn out to be Burton's magnum opus.

She is an established artist of the highest integrity, sensitivity and skill. She has a devoted following and for most of us, sharing our home with one of her paintings would be pure delight. Her reputation is huge and further enhanced by this exhibition.

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