Monday, January 29, 2018

Gold And Skullduggery – but no pirates….

Dunedin – the capital city of New Zealand, well….er…nearly! 

Beginning in the 1860’s there was a gold rush in Otago and Dunedin became a bustling city of traders and bankers. Much of the historic architecture in Dunedin city has quite intricate details and ornaments, an indication of the wealth that once existed here (think Lion's heads, King Neptune, eagles etc) cast in plaster on the frontages of hotels and banks).

As part of my “One Winter’s Night In The Woodshed” series I decided to paint a tribute to the gold miners. It was all hard labour in those days and they wore wide brimmed hats to keep the sun off their faces while they toiled with pick axes and shovels. 

Chinese immigrants were highly involved in the search for gold and they used traditional hand scales to weigh gold nuggets…and a bit of Opium too! In this painting one bird sleeps covered in gold dust holding a set of hand scales in his feet…or IS that gold dust…
...and is he actually ASLEEP? 

His neighbour doesn’t seem too impressed about his sideways lean.

I imagine there was a lot of skullduggery in the gold rush fields; diggers having to hide their nuggets hoping noone would rob them of their potential fortune before they got to the bank. One of my birds appears to calmly sleep while obscuring the fact he has...
... a rather large lump of gold beside him...

... that noone else has seemed to notice.

I like to do little project studies for my art to find specific information, and so I go looking through museums and in library books and Google random bits of information. Thanks to great displays at Toitu Early Settlers Museum and Otago Museum I was able to see old lanterns, picks, shovels, lanterns and crumpled up hats to paint from.

"The Prospectors"
One Winters Night In The Woodshed series 
Acrylic On Canvas
250mm H x 500mm W

Detail shots below:

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