Welcome to my website, which shows the variety of art I have chosen to do, much of which is based on my use of local rock pigments and colours from plants.
This interest in pigments started when researching my subject – an eroding hillside, and I realised the colours revealed could be used to make paint. I followed my intuition at first, knowing the art of Richard Long who in the UK used Avon River mud on gallery walls. I crushed and heated the clay and mixed with water and even acrylic primal, and applied to paper and canvas. Eventually I was laying the clay over the studio wall. It was during the next years study that I investigated watercolour binders for the rock colours.
Having worked at setting up and running a certified organic orchard in Paparimu near Hunua, south of Auckland, sustainability and environmental concern played a big part in my choice to use local rock and plant pigments. While I find rock beside road cuttings and on rivers and beaches, I feel quite aware that this is not a never-ending resource. You only need a small pebble, size of a walnut shell, and a tablespoon of ground pigment to give a few years supply of watercolour paint. Even the binder ingredients can be sourced in New Zealand. I notice the rain transporting the coloured clays down to the rivers and the sea. Here in Canterbury, the rocks continually coming down the braided rivers are necessary to prevent the erosion of the land by the sea.
Volcanic clays, Banks Peninsula
Canterbury pigments provided me with a method of discovering more about the topography, landscape and history of an area that I had only previously known as a visitor.
Locally-found pigments obviously speak about place, however, what they show is not so immediately apparent to the casual observer. Most of the colours are underground and only revealed by the natural forces, erosion or when roadworks cut through the land’s surface.
While the artworks speak about place, they also demonstrate the distinctive qualities of these local pigments. Natural earth pigments, because they are unrefined, make a paint that is full of texture and colour variation which is unique to the place of origin. The colours within a rock emerge during the grinding process, yielding a colour that has a brilliance and a character all of its own.
Above; Motunau rock layers
Below; Loess, shown here near Banks Peninsula. This is rock that covers the land, accumulating over the millennia, from windblown particles of rock dust. It can erode in fascinating ways.
In researching the topography and history of the Canterbury landscape, I was intrigued by the imagery suggested by lines imposed on land. This is shown concretely, as roads, railways, fence lines, shelter belts, drains, canals. It is shown abstractly as partition lines drawn up on a map and the blocks and grids denoting divisions or boundaries of town or country. This imagery became the basis for the development of my earth pigment paintings.
All images copyright © Celia Wilson 2009-2021,
all rights reserved; may not be reproduced without prior permission.