Denise Copland

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1952

Indigenous IV

  • 1991
  • Etching, aquatint
  • Purchased, 1993
  • 803 x 605mm
  • 93/36:9-24

With its distinctive split trunk and delicate foliage outlined against the sky, this pōkākā tree is a remnant of the diverse canopies of Aotearoa New Zealand's great forests. It is part of a larger series by Denise Copland reflecting on the precarious relationship between trees and people. In many cultures and belief systems, including te ao Māori and Christianity, trees connect us with the past as the literal or symbolic embodiments of our ancestors. Yet human presence here has devastated indigenous forests, from the introduction of animals, plants and diseases to the clearing of forests for settlement and development.

(Absence, May 2023)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Through her art, Denise Copland has for many years expressed her concern at the destruction of the indigenous forests of New Zealand. The human impact on the natural environment is the overall theme of her ‘Implantations’ installation of 23 prints, of which this suite of five is a part. The first suite in the installation, these prints gradually move from dark to light. This refers to the gradual clearance of the native forest. Produced on a large scale, the dramatic viewpoint of the prints, looking up the trunk of the trees towards the canopy, intensifies the scale. Copland took the plates for these prints into the bush and worked on them, often using bark as well as an etching needle. Copland is one of New Zealand’s leading printmakers. She was born in Timaru and studied at the Christchurch Polytechnic and the School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury. She has gone on to tutor at both those institutions. Copland has exhibited widely in New Zealand and participates regularly in international print exhibitions.

    (Date unknown)