Showcase – Artwork of the week

This week: A Love for Nature by Nigel Brown

Nigel Brown
July 2020

During winter, we're showcasing here an individual artwork with more detail, and context behind it - a little further insight each week into one of the stunning works in our exhibition 20:20 Twenty Years at The Diversion Gallery!

The ‘New Zealand man’ – known to many as Nigel Brown’s ‘black singlet man’ – salt of the earth, hardworking user of the land, must now become the nurturer and protector of the environment. This prominent New Zealand artist has long used his artwork to highlight environmental and societal issues which need to be addressed – now urgently. His black singlet man here  becomes the nurturer of the Kererū, the bird which over the past several years he has used as a motif representing the future of the environment and sustainability.

This work is a relief cut out from thick ply, a process of carving in which the medium sometimes defies the artist, in terms of how the chisel cuts, producing raw edges and a degree of the unexpected. While he seems at one with the birds, on the man’s shoulder smoke rises from a volcano – a warning of the impact of climate volatility, of earthquakes and eruptions as nature responds to our use and abuse of the earth. Inscribed in the black singlet are power words – Aroha and Earth above his hands; pollution, climate change carved below his arms. The belt is wood carved with symbols evocative of traditional motifs.

The reverse of the artwork is also painted in detail, with motifs relating to nature, as well as the title and signature of the artist.

This is the fourth and largest of a series of cut-out works exhibited at The Diversion over the past three years, featuring this everyman, but each represented differently and painted with various technique, carrying a unique message.