Denise Copland

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1952

Human Impact V

  • 1991
  • Etching, aquatint
  • Purchased, 1993
  • 800 x 606mm
  • 93/36:15-24

Printmaker Denise Copland has often focused on the devastating impact of human actions on the natural environment. She frequently includes native and exotic trees in her works, drawing on their significance in Te Ao Māori and many European cultures as symbols of whakapapa and the continuity of generations. This etching shows a kahikatea tree – the towering giant of the Aotearoa New Zealand forest, with its trunk and branches engulfed in fire. This urgent scene is a reminder of how our native forests were burned down to make space for human occupation and grazing land.

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Human Impact V shows a large kahikatea tree (Dacrycarpus Dacrydioides) burning. The scene recalls the burning of native forests by early European settlers in New Zealand to make space for buildings and grazing land and is an example of Denise Copland's long-term interest in the complex relationship between humans and nature. The image is a combination of closely observed realism and expressive drawing. Copland has created a contemporary work that combines the fine lines and precise details of the traditional print with more abstract elements. Born in Timaru, Copland studied at the Christchurch Polytechnic. She has received numerous awards and grants, including a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Award in 1990 and the Jean Herbison Research Grant from the Christchurch Polytechnic in 1996. In 2002 Copland was an Antarctic Arts Fellow. She has lectured widely on printmaking and in 1985 produced a limited edition hand-printed book on etching techniques. Copland participates regularly in international print exhibitions and her work is held in many public and private collections. (Label date unknown)