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The Global Pandemic that started in 2020 has been the most unsettling time in our recent history. The word ‘unprecedented’ became the news media's mantra as government’s across the globe scrambled to put forward legislation to protect the vulnerable. Being the first global pandemic of the digital  age, we saw the pandemic playing out across the world in real time.

However the screen connection veil highlighted that people no longer just believe what they see. It didn’t take long for a cacophony of varied theories, remedies, villains, and heroes to arise in the court of public opinion. Keyboard warriors destroyed each other, mental health issues rose significantly, families split, marriages dissolved, children lost their innocence and confidence in the world - but overall we did what we had to, to get through this incredibly difficult time.


I, like many, had close friends and family with opposing opinions/beliefs and values. There were tense discussions sometimes ending in a gradual parting of ways. There were new social etiquettes to navigate and discuss, as well as difficult conversations to be had. Early on I resolved not to get into discussions in a virtual setting. So much of a conversation's depth and energy is lost with only the tool of words on a screen. Posture, tone, expression, timing, and heart all affect the way your message is interpreted. I felt a responsibility to openly and maturely have these conversions in person. We are taught to debate in school. Through healthy debate we learn important life lessons - such as how to choose a side and intelligently argue your point, respecting the other side's opportunity to speak. We attend school with children of different cultures and customs and are taught to respect and embrace them - yet when the raw primal emotion of ‘fear’ is thrown into the mix - all this goes out the window. 


In my previous series ‘Flock or Folly’ I explored the concept of de-extinction science and whether this would be beneficial or harmful to our ecosystem. This series ‘Taking Sides’ not only references the difficult times we have come through but seeks to remind us of the beauty in diversity. The appreciation in differences and the amalgamation of a new ‘ecosystem’ not only for birds and plants but for people too. 


There is harmony in opposing forces/ideas/native and introduced. This harmony is our beautifully diverse modern eco-system in New Zealand. As an environmental artist there is always a reference back to the original theme of conservation. I was so inspired by Jim Lynch’s talk I was fortunate to attend early in 2021 for the Otanewainuku Trust. Jim Lunch was the original designer of Zealandia (an ecosanctuary in Wellington). Zelandia, now 20 years down the track, is starting to show the fruits of its labor with more and more native birds ‘flying the coop’ and immersing themselves in inner-city and suburban gardens. Each painting in this series seeks to demonstrate the beauty in the yin yang opposites, Dark and light, native and introduced, flying and still, male and female. We all bring something to the table and it is our differences that make this world interesting.

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