An Artist's Journeys in Nature


Alexander The Great – Greek Drachma

The coins of ancient Greece became a lifelong fascination when my parents bought me a small Penguin volume entitled ‘A Book Of Greek Coins’ by Charles Seltman.

We were in Central Africa, and I had been hooked on the classical world for some years.  I was by this time at university, with dreams of becoming an archaeologist in the Mediterranean – not such a long shot from where we lived, after all.

But all that was to change.  My father, with his army training, could see the tensions writ large in Africa and he decided he needed to move his wife and daughter out of it.

I was devastated – but the passage of time has proved his premonitions correct.

So the move to New Zealand went ahead: not an easy change.  It cost me a year’s study, plus a Booker scholarship (cf The Booker Prize).  Once here in NZ I completed my BA, majoring in Latin and Ancient Greek.    All of this fed into existing interests, but I came to realize archaeology was no longer an option.  So I launched into Law, which finally became my ‘official’ career.

Meanwhile on the sidelines, art continued on – supporting me as always through the dark days.

Charles Seltman’s book (aided and abetted now by Google) has become a huge source of inspiration for a series of sculpture tributes to the coins I admire most.

Created in modeling clay, taken through a plaster waste mold process to produce a master (this was in the days before cold-pouring rubber), then a flexible hot-poured mold – finally cast in epoxy, 3.5″ diameter.  I have once more picked up this skill (which I owe to my dad) since moving up here – only now with the huge advantage of cold-pour molding materials.

This series honors the brilliant artists who carved in intaglio, in miniature, in metal, the dies from which the Greek city state coins were struck for many centuries.  Considering the size (mostly 1″ and under), the issues of carving in metal, and the challenges of producing an intaglio image, these works are true masterpieces.

Original coin (1.1″ diameter) was struck in Asia Minor by Lysimachus after Alexander’s death, c 300 BC.

I see some parts of Wikipedia have problems with the word ‘intaglio’ – which does have various meanings.  There is some clarity here –

“Sunk relief technique is not to be confused with counter-relief or intaglio as seen on engraved gem seals—where an image is fully modeled in a “negative” manner. The image goes into the surface, so that when impressed on wax it gives an impression in normal relief.”  (Wikipedia)

In creating coinage however, the metal carved into had to be hard enough to impress the image on metal – not merely wax.

For more details about the work, click on the image.  For more details about the Series, CLICK HERE.




Golden Winning Trotter

Here’s a new slant on one of my old T-shirt screenprint designs featuring my favorite harness racing horse, “Sir Castleton“.  He was a small (14 hands) but brilliantly talented trotter who campaigned in New Zealand and Australia in the 1980’s, from a small stud in Ashburton in the South Island – trained by his owner.

When he bowed out with arthritis in 1985, Sir was New Zealand’s greatest stakes-winning trotter.

He raced in NZ 96 times for 39 wins and 34 placings for earnings of $255,902. He earned an additional $46,250 in two campaigns at the Inter Dominions in Australia giving him a combined total of NZ$302,152.

I watched him race several times at the Cambridge Racecourse, having become friends with his owners who had commissioned me to make artworks of him. This work was developed from a series of photos I took while he was training at the Cambridge Racetrack one morning.

Original silkscreen made by me and now re-created in Vector for digital printing.

There is another version  called “Chariots Of Fire” that features a deliberate nod to the 1981 movie of the same name.

For more information and details about the works and products, click on the images.


Northern Royal Albatross – Toroa

Another amazing Albatross that spends about 85% of its time out at sea, traveling vast distances thanks to its mastery of the ocean winds and thermals.

They mate for life and live to a ripe old age: provided they don’t ingest or get caught in man-made hazards such as plastic waste, nylon fishing lines, and fishing hooks – all of which we have dumped into the ocean and landfill in far too vast quantities.

I read recently that the plastic situation is becoming dire.  Not only are there huge islands of plastic waste in our oceans, but plastic in quantity has now entered the food chain via microscopic particles formed by the degradation of dumped plastic trash.  These particles are not just to be found in ocean water – they are also in all our waterways, rivers and streams, in tap water and also probably in precipitation.

The really scary thing about plastics is that being derived from petroleum, they also carry the petroleum estrogenic signature.  Which means we are all being bombarded with additional estrogen – men, women and living creatures alike.  This if course is especially not good for males.

Say no more!

Thirteen varieties of albatross breed in the New Zealand region – more than anywhere else in the world.  Northern royal albatrosses are among the largest birds in the world, with a wingspan of 106–120 inches.  Frequently encountered by mariners in the sailing days – see The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Digital work – vector pen tool in Macromedia Fireworks MX.

For more details about the artwork and products, click on the images.



The Albatross, one of the world’s most amazing birds – spending about 75% of its time out at sea, traveling vast distances thanks to its mastery of the ocean winds and thermals, mating for life and living to a ripe old age. 

As of 2017 when these works were created, the oldest wild bird known in the world was a female Albatross called Wisdom – first banded in 1956 at the estimated age of 5, her tag had been replaced 6 times over the intervening years. At 66 years old she had just reared another chick at Midway Atoll, in the middle of the North Pacific ocean.

The USGS have logged that Wisdom had flown over three million miles since 1956. Hallelujah!

The albatross became a familiar sight to mariners on sailing ships traveling the southern seas. This relationship is the subject of “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner“, a poem written in 1834 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

PS: And if this makes you think of the most beautiful instrumental work ever written in the Rock genre – you are right: I had Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross‘ playing on a loop while creating this piece.  Awesome!

Digital art – Vector.  For more details about the artworks and products, click on the images


Birds Of Peace

This artwork features two decorative bird motifs in gold and russet brown inside an Art Deco style framework. 

The birds face each other in a sign of peace.  The framework is reminiscent of hammered gold filigree in the Art Deco style.

Birds added from hand-drawn pencil artwork based on Mayan style design: quite a combination – but see below the connections between Art Deco and Mayan art.  

I have a low relief copper cuff bracelet I made using this bird design while living in Central Africa, at the time one of the chief places in the world where copper was mined.  Incidentally, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) where I was living had and still has as its crest the famous, ancient Zimbabwe Bird carved from soapstone, which probably represents the Bateleur eagle or the African fish eagle, and in some ways resembles the birds shown here.

The Art Deco movement drew its inspiration from “… the bold geometric forms of Cubism and the Vienna Secession; the bright colors of Fauvism and of the Ballets Russes; the updated craftsmanship of the furniture of the eras of Louis Philippe I and Louis XVI; and the exotic styles of China and Japan, India, Persia, ancient Egypt and Mayan art

The emergence of Art Deco was closely connected with the rise in status of decorative artists, who until late in the 19th century had been considered simply as artisans. The term arts décoratifs had been invented in 1875, giving the designers of furniture, textiles, and other decoration official status” (Wikipedia).

Léon Bakst, probably the most famous designer of sets and costumes for the Ballets Russes was a big mover and shaker in the Art Deco scene, with the concept having spread to furniture and furnishing design, international architectural design, glass design, textiles and silverware also.

Artwork assembled in Macromedia Fireworks MX.

For more details about the work and products, click on the images.


Hidden Land Secrets

Darkened sky and sunburned hills hide the secret geology below the land – all part of the huge web that forms the structure of the universe. 

As our perceptions and understanding increase – and science delves deeper and becomes more open-minded, we are realizing the interconnectedness of all things.

I believe early man was much more aware of this than we have been until recently – it was something we lost in our relentless march to ‘civilization’.

In one of my attempts to diversify from law over the years, I took stats 101, botany 101 and geology 101, thinking of doing a switch to environmental science. I ran out of funds and came to my senses – realizing that science also is just another man-riddled discipline, but the effort sure fed the muse.

It was in the following year, when I returned to Wellington after a long summer holiday up here – without a job and with no immediate plans for my future, that out of the blue I became National Secretary to the NZ Deerstalkers Association – their former Nat Sec having left the country to run a game ranch in New Mexico.  Life is full of twists and turns, leading us inexorably onwards…

‘Sacred Geometry’ added digitally later.

Acrylic on Arches Dessein 160gsm paper 25″ × 30.5″.   Exhibited at Bay of Islands Arts Festival Exhibition Kerikeri NZ 1998 (invited artist).   Sold to a collector from Whangarei NZ.

For more details about the artwork and products, click on the images.


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