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Sue Cooke printing Long Hee Lee
Photo Credit: Matt Smith

Sue Cooke:

Long Hee Lee - A Songless Land

1 December 2020 - 1 March 2021

In 2015, Whanganui-based landscape artist Sue Cooke, received a year-long grant from the Pollack  Krasner Foundation in New York that funded drawing, research and development of proposals for artwork based on the past and current deforestation of New Zealand’s indigenous forests.


A SONGLESS LAND is one of the proposals that grew out of drawing in Northland’s kauri forests and Southland’s beech forests. The exhibition immerses viewers through the mediums of ink, canvas and paper in deforestation, regeneration and highlights natural beauty in order to focus the audience’s attention on protecting New Zealand’s small and ever-diminishing indigenous forest stock.


LONG HEE LEE is the centrepiece of this exhibition, measuring 3.5 metres high by 16 metres long. This image focuses on the theme of regeneration. Made up of 20 loose canvas banners, it depicts an amphitheatre of regenerating Kamahi forest in Southland, referencing  the demise of a mature podocarp forest at the hands of European and Chinese loggers and gold miners during the late 19th and Early 20th centuries. The artwork is printed on coarse canvas cloth similar to that used by them for tents and clothing. The Artwork also pays homage to the long Chinese tradition of printmaking (It uses wood block printing which was invented by the Chinese in 868AD).


Sue Cooke was born in 1960 in Sydney and emigrated to New Zealand in 1973. Cooke graduated from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts, with a Diploma in Fine Arts (hons) in 1985 and has been a practising artist ever since. Printmaking is a large part of her artistic practise but she also incorporated oils, acrylics and watercolours into her work.

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