A poem by Bill Manhire was the inspiration for this series of paintings. It repeated the words ‘malady’, ‘melody’ and ‘my lady’ and the repetition, simplicity and strong emotion of the poem appealed to Ralph Hotere. ‘Melody’ and ‘malady’ come together in ‘my lady’, suggesting that deep-felt love can be both a sickness and a delight.
The fine circles in the paintings suggest the fragility of love, and their intense colour celebrates its beauty. Hotere made several works based on this poem during the early 1970s.
Hotere was born in Taikarawa, Northland, and was widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s greatest living artists. He is represented in public and private collections throughout New Zealand. He lived at Port Chalmers near Dunedin.