Faulting and Folding

"Hawkins Hill" oil painting of hills of Wellington.

“Hawkins Hill” oil painting of hills of Wellington. 1991

Wellington had a huge storm this week.  I’m afraid there was a lot of damage.  The sea came in and broke up the roads in front of it.  It even entered the houses.  It smashed the waterfronts around the southern bays.   (It is still raining and freezing today, my sister writes, though the wind has dropped.)  The highest wind gust, I read in the news, had been recorded at Hawkins Hill.  It was 248 km/hour.

When I heard the words ‘Hawkins Hill’ I thought of my 1990 painting of the same name.  The old radar station used to be up there when I was growing up.  As it was a very high peak, you could see the radar station from many points, including from my parents’ bedroom window.  When I think of Hawkins Hill I think of cold southerlies.  On the other side of Hawkins Hill are more hills, undulating until they disappear into the Cook Strait.  Beyond Cook Strait is the South Island.  The South Island was magic because I never got to travel there until I was a teenager.  You could see the snowy Kaikoura mountains of the South Island from Island Bay (one of the bays which got hammered this week) and you got fantastic views of it from ‘up the hills’.

I remembered, when I saw Hawkins Hill mentioned in the news, that I had been meaning to write a post one day on faulting and folding and how my art subject matter went from hills to kimono.  I had learned the term ‘faulting and folding’ in geography class at highschool.  The term describes hills (just as you see in my painting) which are formed and molded by earthquakes; thrust upwards and bent – like solid versions of waves in the ocean.  I grew up in seismic Wellington, surrounded by these hills in all directions.  You see similar shapes in Japan, California and … any place with earthquakes.  They make lovely shapes though my father, who came from a very different landscape in Poland, found them claustrophobic – “like buttocks” he said.  However, as they are what I grew up with, I feel affinity with them and I liked to paint them.  I also enjoyed climbing them, playing childhood imaginary games amongst them, looking at the views from the top, making forts, making out (later on), damming their streams and riding over them on my horse.  “Up the Hills” is part of our family terminology.  “We’re going up the hills today.”

So how do I get to the subject of kimono?  Kimono are simply faulting and folding in material AND in glorious technicolor.   I almost die of pleasure working on the landscape of the kimono.   Mmmm, rich colours melting into shadows or highlighted by sun; ridges and valleys, peaks and troughs of fine design-infused material…what could be lovelier?

Faults and folds in the kimono of Ichifuku san, so much like the hills in my eyes.

Faulting and folding  in the kimono of Ichifuku san, so much like hill shapes in my eyes. 2013

[Note: the above drawing of Ichifuku-san is shown in stages in a work-in-progress page: see it here.]

New Zealand and Japan – not so different.  Both have earthquakes, volcanoes, hot springs, long and thin island shapes, polite people – and faulting and folding.  I live in Australia so I can assign both New Zealand and Japan to magical places.  They are both landscapes across the water just as the South Island once was to a girl who lived at the bottom of the North Island…dream-time places to visit now and then (but not often enough to lose the magic).

"Tourists Southbound" an oil painting showing a view of the Wellington hills from the Interisland ferry which crosses the Cook Strait.

“Tourists Southbound” an oil painting showing a view of the Wellington hills from the Interisland ferry which crosses the Cook Strait. 2000

Return to Contents of Posts page

6 thoughts on “Faulting and Folding

  1. anna warren portfolio

    There is an amazing amount of commonality between New Zealand and Japan isn’t there? Not something I would have thought of till you pointed it out. But I love the folds of fabric and the folds of rocks and hills (and flower petals!) too, there is something very satisfying in creating them in pencil or paint. I do like your paintings – I can see how you naturally made the transition to fabric.

  2. Camilla Loveridge

    Ahhhhh….the majic of New Zealand ‘s fiords and sounds!They will never leave my memory…. Now you lure me to Japan, Julie! Simply love your link between the two….landscape and fabric…..and you have caught the sound exactly in your early work. I can just feel the chill in the air (passengers unfashionably rugged up against the biting air…….)and the silence of the engulfing “folds”. Camilla 🙂

  3. Robyn Varpins

    the undulations of fabric-scapes are just as delicious in clay. Your hills could be Mother-earth’s draped kimono, decorated with a valley of flowers and ridges of trees….(does that sound too naff?)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.