Spirit of the Land  - Moira Pagan

​Spirit of the Land 

Having been a painter of landscapes in the past and sold watercolours in Scotland, the Outer Hebrides, Yorkshire and Germany - In Northland, New Zealand I revisit a favourite subject from a new perspective and use the more three dimensional approach of textured acrylic paint, beeswax, oil stick and sometimes fragments of gold leaf. In these small canvases I explore the use of vibrant underpainting in reds and oranges which represent the life and energy within the life forms of the landscape around me - and particularly the dramatic shapes of the Whangarei Heads coastline which, only recently in the Earth's history, was a bubbling mass of volcanic eruptions and fireworks, with fire and rivers of molten rock flowing out over land and sea. The textures embedded into the paintings or scratched onto the surface, represent some of this activity as well as the effects of time and weather or the hidden effects of emotion, battle and the human lives lived out along these shores. 

Islands in Whangarei Harbour

Mixed media, 305mm x 157mm

$ 150 

Whose Land? Whose Shore?

Mixed media, 1600mm x 505mm

 Sold

Parauwanui Beach Flowers

Mixed media, 305mm x 305mm

Sold

In Darkness There is Light

Mixed media, 305mm x 305mm

SOLD

Sunset Storm over Parua Bay

Mixed media, 305mm x 305mm

SOLD

Matakohe Sings

Mixed media, 510mm x 510mm

SOLD 

Mount Manaia Arising

Mixed media, 405mm x 205mm

$ 250 

Towards Pataua

Mixed media, 305mm x 305mm

$ 225

Towards Horahora from Parauwanui

Mixed media, 405mm x 205mm

$ 250 

Across Urquart's Bay

Mixed media, 510mm x 250mm

SOLD

Pataua Rocks

Mixed media, 405mm x 205mm

Sold

Smugglers Bay

Mixed media, 305mm x 305mm

Sold

Kiteone Shore At Dusk

Mixed media, 305mm x 305mm

$ 225

 Whangarei Heads from Waipu Beach

Mixed media, 305mm x 305mm

Sold

Parua Bay at Dusk

Mixed media, 300mm x 300mm

Sold

Artist Notes - Spirit of the Land Series



 

 

Whose Land? Whose Shore 1600mm x 505mm 

This is the spectacular view first seen of Parua Bay as you drive out of town toward The Whangarei Heads. The backdrop of volcanic plug mountains of Mount Manaia and Bream Head rise in the background. When the tide is out there are endless shows of light and dark in the wide shore. In researching photos of pioneer women for the Women as Icons series, I came across a number of images of women walking along local beaches and shores in amazingly impractical Sunday Best outfits with hats and parasols. I painted a group of them as semi transparent beings, which is how they appeared, and then the group of three Maori women positioned themselves directly under the Maunga – Manaia. Seeing how the dress of the European women was adapted or adopted by Maori women to various degrees and this group of 3 reflects their mixture of outfits. Other stories or tensions may suggest themselves to the viewer via the title.

 

Islands In Whangarei Harbour 305mm x 157mm
This tiny painting is actually of one island flanked by two headlands and where I live is tucked in behind the right headland. The view is seen from one of our favourite walks along the coastal reserve from Stuart Road in McLeod’s Bay to Darch point. This walkway is now part of the new trans New Zealand walkway – Te Ara Roa – The Long Path

Towards Horahora from Parauwanui Beach 405mm x 205mm

This was the first landscape I attempted which was basically a picture postcard sunny scene and not something I would normally try to paint these days– but I was very happy that the vibrant under painting seemed to represent the energy and aliveness in the land itself. This viewpoint is the destination for a wonderful walk only 10 minutes drive from where we live. You can park at Pataua South walk across a 30 metre or so footbridge over the River to Pataua North then along the sandy estuary and a fabulous silver surf beach to the rocky volcanic outcrops seen here at the end of the beach. It’s about 1.5 hr return.

Matakohe Sings 510mm x 510mm 
Also known as Limestone Island, I have a fond connection to this place, which is now a place of sanctuary and nursery for kiwi chicks as well as having been lovingly revegetated by volunteers from 1989. I based my series for ‘The Harbour’ exhibition, on the Single men’s Quarters ruins on this Island which has had an interesting and varied life including being farmed by early Maori, fought over by tribes, becoming a  Limeworks factory with 200 people living and working there year round by 1916. More info can be read at:
http://www.limestoneisland.org.nz

Mount Manaia Arising 405mm x 205mm
This Mountain, which is the remnant of a volcano and the ‘pillars’ of rock remains of volcanic plugs from the Miocene period, is the mountain, which forms the backdrop to this whole area in which I live. It is a very important place for Maori and steeped in legend, atmosphere, and presence. The summit is 420metres high and can be comfortably walked up in an hour – a good bit of cardio exercise but the reward at the summit are spectacular views of the coastline and Bream Head out to the Islands in Bream Bay.

Across Urquhart’s Bay 510mm x 250mm
This is a view seen from the home stretch on a beautiful walk about 1.5hrs long from the car park at Urquhart’s Bay, Whangarei Heads, you can circuit up past the gun emplacement ruins to the ridge bush towards Busby ahead and down through stands of tea tree, hebe, pittosporum and regenerating trees to a most perfect beach at Smuggler’s Bay – only reached on foot or by boat. From the beach it is only a ten-fifteen minute walk back to the car park and you’ve then had wonderful exercise, fabulous views and restored in body, mind and spirit!

Sunset Storm Over Parua Bay 305mm x 305mm
This is part of the view seen from our balcony and was inspired by a stormy sky and watery pale golden sun behind the cloud and reflected on the sea. The headland is that of the Nook Peninsular which frames one side of the bay. It was the first painting in the series and has a certain drama and immediacy which inspired confidence in me that the landscape subject matter would work.

Pataua Rocks 405mm x 205mm
One of our favourite walks along the long surf beach from Pataua North towards Horahora and usually we arrive here the only people on the beach and look back at the dramatic conical hills which pop up from sea level like picture book images. Maori settlement have lived and fought here well before European arrivals.

Towards Pataua 305mm x 305mm
A similar view from that above- but as seen from in front of the bands of rocks, closer to the small out flowing stream.

Kiteone Shore at Dusk   305mm x 305mm
This is our almost daily view from the Esplanade Reserve down below our house.  The tide is out revealing the streams flowing over the mudflats and reminding us of some of our walks along the shores of Morecambe Bay back in the UK.  Gold fragments in the under painting layers shine through to symbolise this precious and delicate environment along the shore and salt marsh.

In Darkness There is Light 305mm x 305mm
The Title is inspired by part of a verse from  the Sandoki Scripture  used in ceremonies by the Order of British Contemplatives:
‘Within all light is darkness
But explained it cannot be by darkness that one-sided is alone.
In darkness there is light…’
The storm clouds are there but behind them the sun is always shining. These dramatic plays of light on the sea remind me that light and darkness co-exist together and one is not more important or ‘better’ than the other. Within difficult situations there is always the potential for new understanding to emerge.

Parauwanui Beach Flowers 305mm x 305mm
Summer brings swathes of daisies along the edge of the beach and at other times of the year succulents pop up orange flower stalks which seem to light up the beach walk.

Smugglers Bay 305mm x 305mm
This bay was once used by boats entering Whangarei Harbour to offload their illegal goods before meeting up with customs officers further down the harbour. The bay is an idyllic peaceful spot, which can only be reached by boat or on foot as the road ends at Urquhart’s Bay and this beach is 15 minutes walk away. Bush clad slopes of Bream Head and Busby Head flank the bay and create a dramatic backdrop to the pink pale sand.

Whangarei Heads from Waipu Beach  305mm x 305mm and Parua Bay at Dusk 300mm x 300mm
These were two experimental paintings in which  torn strips of watercolour paper were laid down in layers  with the torn edges creating a textured effect. Mixed media was applied with mostly watercolour paints being used plus some textured gel medium, acrylic paint as well as oil sticks.