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Songs of the Land

3 August - 3 September 2023

Born and raised in mid Canterury, Janet de Wagt has been working full-time as an artist for the past 40 years, balancing a successful painting career with a busy community-based role as an art project facilitator. She has exhibited widely in both group and solo shows and is equally well-known for her popular and stimulating workshop programmes. Based in Dunedin, a special focus of Janet's work is the isolated areas of Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

'Songs of the Land' combines Janet's love of the environment with her art. As an 'en plain air' painter Janet works outdoors in the landscape, in all weathers, responding directly to the immediate environment. She is an observer of the life of the land, the creatures who inhabit it and the obvious and subtle sounds that emanate from within it. In this series Janet has chosen to use guitars and ukuleles as her canvas, utilising the inner spaces of the instrument to introduce a light source. The guitars and ukuleles are a metaphor for the sound she hears in nature and the light illuminates the many environmental issues dear to her heart. These include the plight of many of New Zealand's endangered native birds such as the Royal Albatross, Kakapo and Little Blue Penguin; the effect of introduced species such as the rabbit on the land; and the hunting to near extinction of our giants of the deep, whales. On the surface they appear to be quirky and fun but look more closely and you will discover a deeper message.

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