Artist: Brent Forbes

Artist Profile

Birdlings Flat I 760 x 760mm Acrylic on canvas6

Brent Forbes

In 2009 I rented a bach at Birdling’s Flat for three days.  A couple of times a year I take a break, normally somewhere by the sea – a chance to read and draw and write.  With an upcoming ride from Chch to Akaroa to train for I wanted to check out the climb up to Hill Top Tavern, as I hadn’t seen it since I lived in Christchurch quite a few years ago, so I looked for somewhere north rather than the usual southern break.

The first evening was bright, the sun visible right up until it sunk behind the horizon.  I walked around the streets, photographing the clear-cut shapes of hills, the deep colour of the water, the coming of dusk.  I was reminded of childhood holidays at similar settlements – ramshackle collections of dwellings added to and altered over time, the record of working bees and holidays.  Each bach tentatively anchored to the landscape, no grand statements of permanency or vast land ownership.

On the recommendation of friends I drove early the next morning out towards the end of Kiatorete Spit.  Looking back towards the hills of Banks Peninsula as the overnight weather cleared I did some quick drawings and took some photos, but mainly I just walked around wrapped up against the cold and watched the sun and clouds do battle. 

Last year I took three months leave from work to try and connect with my painting again.  Prior to this my working life had impinged on my painting to such an extent that works were few and far between, time in the studio was sporadic at best, months could go by without two consecutive days painting.  I started small and, looking at the photos and drawings I did over those three days five years prior, and decided to commit to doing a series of works based on that holiday.  At first I wasn’t sure of this direction – my previous work had been more abstract, less obvious as a particular location, not so recognisable.  I felt a real sense of anxiety to be trying so deliberately to record a place in such a manner.  There were many questions in my mind about validity, the choice of subject matter, the genre, and of failing to adequately communicate that sense of place, the feelings I experienced being at the edge of the sea, hemmed in by hills, walking streets that were a mix of houses and vacant spaces. 

Holding all these thoughts at bay until a reasonable amount of work had been produced – hoping perhaps that the works themselves would provide an answer, I simply kept painting.  One work became another, and another.  Eventually I took myself out of the equation - why I was painting differently than I had done in the past, what it all meant – and concentrated on remembering one small period of time in one particular place.

Artist Gallery

Artist Exhibitions

Brent Forbes

Thursday 11 Jun 2015 - Wednesday 8 Jul 2015

Brent Forbes,  Rachel Murphy

Saturday 10 Jun 2017 - Wednesday 5 Jul 2017