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Events & Exhibitions

Delaney Davidson on his New Exhibition ‘Eyes for the Hills’

Visual Arts

Delaney Davidson has many strings to his impressive bow. Not only is he an accomplished singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer – he’s also a talented artist. 

As artist-in-residence at Stoddart Cottage last year, he found himself focusing on the landscape and his new exhibition, ‘Eyes for the Hills,’ showcases these new works.

We spoke to Delaney about his time at the cottage and how it shaped his work. 

What was your time at Stoddard Cottage like?

My residency in Stoddard Cottage came at a really great time.

I had just finished my year at Massey where I had started to reconnect with painting. The time in Purau was perfect, getting to focus on the visual side of things. I could have several things going at once and just keep plugging away at them at the same time. I was doing a lot of sketch trips out during the night looking for that light dark balance. So, I’d paint all day and when it was getting too dark to paint, I’d head out in a different direction every evening.

Went out to Camp Bay, went out to Koukourarata (Port Levy), headed over the Western Valley Rd to Little River, out through the Harbour over Gebbies Pass to Waihoro and Kaitorete, and drove that little stock route from Koukourarata to Pigeon Bay.

Can you tell us about the themes of this exhibition?

The themes I was looking at started to become landscape pretty quickly.

I started to read the land in a different way. Things started to stand out. Are the trees native, are the hills cleared? Is there a road? Is there some sign of intent; a fence, a power pole, a track, a road?

In that twilight evening light, the land felt like it came alive. Big rocks staring back at me, some dog barking in the distance giving the road an occupied feeling, fence posts looking at me, trees reaching over the road to come into the car, shadows moving in the night. I tried to reduce the language in these pictures to some kind of shorthand.

How much does the environment around you influence your work?

I get spooked easily so these were some exciting evenings, ha ha!

I started almost having to close my eyes because wherever I looked there was another beautiful scene I wanted to try and get down on paper or canvas. I felt overwhelmed. Like the works were some sort of map into the world I was living, once it got dark and the forms of the hills took over. Once things simplified into the big shapes in the dark. It had this amazing reassuring feeling. Some weird, haunted reliability.

What media did you use for the works?

Towards the end of the time, I made some scratchings into Tetrapak cartons hoping to make intaglio prints from them, and went over to Le Bons Bay to meet with Saskia DeVries and try printing them in her amazing studio.

I also had a few lino cuts, so we did those first and for some reason (I don’t think I was paying attention) I just tried the same ink for these intaglio prints. It was the wrong ink totally, but we got these engravings inked up and they looked beautiful.

I remember thinking that I could do a series of small tetra-pak engravings, then I started to think how could I get this medium of foil bigger, and had a roll floating round, so stuck some down on a board and started to seal it up with Aquathane, so the ink and paint would hold.

This became the theme for this show. The soft reflected light on the foil and the dark ink spelling out the forms and shapes in the picture. It’s a trick to manage it as you have to work fast or you start to dissolve the layer underneath.

How much inspiration do you find living in Lyttelton?

I still look over the harbour and see these hills and rocks I was so involved with. Like living in the crook of their arm.

And it reminds me of that time in Karearea cottage and the residency. I watch them changing in the light. Remember the majesty of them in the night. Often it feels like they are calling me back to come be in that atmosphere and environment.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve got an album release for March and a European tour in June and July. I’m still tinkering with pictures as well.

Delaney’s exhibition, ‘Eyes for the Hills’ is at Stoddart Cottage in Diamond Harbour from 2 – 25th February. 

The opening event is Saturday 3 February from 3pm til 5pm. 

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