Marilyn Rea-Menzies is an artist whose professional skills stretch across several unique disciplines, from tapestry to painting, drawing and printing. Her specialist area is in fibre art and the creation of spectacular wall hangings that grace many collections throughout the country and overseas.
Her skills and standing in this field have been recognized internationally with an invitation to exhibit her work at the Canadian Tapestry and Textile Centre in Ontario, in 2019.
This current show at from out of the blue studio gallery, entitled ‘Extinction is Forever’, reflects the artist’s environmental concerns for the flora and fauna of this country at a critical time in our history when species management of endangered birds and animals are of pressing importance.
The artist’s love of nature, birds in particular, (which feature strongly in the exhibition), reaches back to her child- hood, growing up on the West Coast near the native bush line. Such an early encounter with the natural world has stayed with the artist all her life, and in this show she has given voice to the current concerns to do with ecology and conservation, matters needing to be addressed as planetary problems become even more acute.
Using a cloak format as her structure, a configuration which signifies protection and mana, Rea-Menzies has depicted various endangered birds, the Kokako, Kieke and Hihi among them, and composed them in such a way as to alert us to the ongoing need for the safeguard of these rare and threatened creatures. In doing so she has employed both a realist and stylized method of representation together with a touch of abstraction to carry her imagery. She has also employed a dual compositional device whereby both presentation of live birds and dead birds are juxtaposed in the same work, the later complete with name tags as per museum practise.
About 50 native birds have become extinct since human habitation and artist’s work, which includes paintings and charcoal drawings, depicting the scourge of plastic, is a timely reminder of conservation work still left to do.