Monday, March 28, 2011

Te Papa Visit 2

Great Egret study

Fairy Prion study

Fairy Prion gouache on gessoed panel study

So I just want to say that Te Papa's research facility that houses it's specimens is hands down one of the coolest places I've ever been. It doesn't hurt that it is literally across the street from campus. The main museum is about a 20 min. walk from school and if you are ever in the neighborhood it's a must see. As some of you know I pleaded my way into a series of sketching sessions that take place in the research facilities bird specimen room. (And by room I mean an enormo-deluxe-warehouse-heaven-like space.) I've gone for the last two Mondays for 2 hr. sessions and I'm scheduled for next Monday. It is my hope to keep the sessions going.

My first visit was overwhelming and Gillian, the specimen manager, was amazing at keeping me somewhat focused. Last Monday was much more productive. Gillian is familiar with what I'm wanting to accomplish and she had some amazing specimens already picked out. Last visit I drew from the bird skin specimen drawers (Snipe, South Island Robins, Great Spotted Kiwi - some of the skins were over 100 yrs. old!) and this time I worked from stuffed taxidermy birds (Tui, Fairy Prion, Common Diving Petrel chick, Red-crowned Parakeet, and Great Egret). Above is work from 2 of the 5 specimens I viewed.

A couple of days ago I began reading the biography of Walter Buller. He was born in New Zealand in the 1800's to missionary parents. He was responsible for discovering and documenting numerous native NZ birds. He was also to blame for the demise of some of these birds but that is a different story. Gillian and I spoke of him and at the end of my session she brought over a drawer that contained about 7 of Buller's specimens! His dang paws touched those birds - they are outfitted with his original tags! I asked if all of the species were alive today and a few are extinct. It was agreed that I will work from that drawer first next Monday. Nerd heaven....

Rats. Check. Beginning from the left hand side we have a Norway rat (largest), house rat, and lastly a ship rat. The background is based on all of their coloring combined. I don't know what else to say other than NZ didn't even now what a dang mammal was until us peeps brought these rats over (along with countless other animals) and they killed lots of indigenous critters. God, we're such a-holes.

The End.

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