The Bluebird of Happiness
760 x 760
Mixed Media - Paint, dress patterns, graphite, charcoal, metallic foil
Won 'People's Choice Award', Kumeu Art Awards 2020.
This finished piece was inspired by a chapter in Rosemary McLeod’s book ‘Thrift to Fantasy’ (about textile crafts of the 1930s-1950s). She speaks about a popular idea that may date back to a 1909 play called ‘The Bluebird of Happiness’, where ‘two children search the world for happiness, only to find it in their own back yard.’ In these times of isolation, I’d like to think it’s possible for happiness to be found right where you are.
Rosemary writes that the presence of the decorative bluebird in domestic crafts was used as a kind of talisman for an idyllic home-life. I’ve used a free-flying, Tui-like bluebird as an icon in this work juxtaposed against a tethered bluebird - stitched to the woman’s dress.
There is a ship: boats have long been used for travel and for those living in New Zealand the only means of arriving and leaving before aeroplane flights were available. I relate this to how limited or no travel options are affecting us all. I have felt the sadness of separation, homesickness and dream about the joy of arrival back to familiar ‘shores’. The egg represents many ideas: new life and ways of being, containment, transition. There is a home with sewn heart and another panel with tree bearing fruit surrounded by a wreath, inspired by embroidery transfer motifs.