New Zealand sculptor Alison Erickson lives and works in a picturesque old flour mill in Waikari, North Canterbury. She produces small and large scale figurative bronzes which she casts in a small foundry onsite.
Some of Erickson’s recent works feature the huia bird which serves as a symbol of all that is treasured and vulnerable. The huia was revered and valued by Maori and European and yet neither culture protected them. Our desire to possess them for ornamental purposes, brought about their extinction. This blatant behaviour and lack of foresight is prevalent in our contemporary society. Therefore, the huia in Erickson’s work symbolises precious impermanence and the vulnerability of our greatest assets: our native flora, fauna and waterways.
Bureaucracy is represented by the figure of a suited man, striding confidently but without caution; quite simply, he’s not looking where he’s going. Erickson explains, “The policy makers determine our course and make decisions on our behalf but perhaps they’ve lost sight of who they are acting for.” Mother and daughter figures, and lone children precariously balancing on stilts, represent the everyday people and the next generation whose legacy may be a landscape without birds and rivers they can’t swim in.
Erickson exhibits throughout New Zealand. She was recently commissioned by Creative Communities to create a public sculpture for Waimakariri. A community-inspired work, the bronze sculpture of a family group entitled Winds of Change was completed in 2015 and stands outside the Rangiora library.
The sculpture has three aspects – the change incurred by Canterbury’s earthquakes, the raw elements of the north westerly wind and the voice of the people. The sculpture depicts a family of three who are, the artist explains, “refugees of change”. She has since expanded on this theme, creating a smaller version with four figures.
Erickson’s work is consistently plaintive, quiet and humble. Whether on a small or large scale her figures are surprisingly intimate, and her modelling intuitive. She captures the essence of humanity and produce works which stay with you after you leave them.