How we humans perceive the non-human world, and thus how we behave as nature’s most dangerously detrimental element, is at the root of the new field of ‘ecopoetics’.
This evolving movement seeks to inspire new kinds of art and language that focus on the natural world not in order to extract a deeper, human meaning but to find a new verbal and visual vocabulary that comes to terms with our position within nature as equal, rather than dominant beings. Ecopoetics is also engaged in examining how cultural forms have both reflected and shaped ways of thinking about nature. These forms includes everything from fables, fairy tales, and epic poems, to painting and sculpture, traditions of craft and artisanship, and popular arts of every kind.
This collaborative work specifically takes on ‘Bo Peep’ and through whimsy, humour (both dark and light) and empathic observation, explores our complex relationship with the animals we raise for food and clothing. The work emerges out of the past experience of the artist as a veterinarian’s assistant and of the writer, who was trained as a zoologist, but it is equally a response of both to the countryside of New Zealand and to one of its most iconic elements.
The Ecopoetics of Peep, a poem written by Evelyn Reilly in response to recent work by Andrea Gardner, is incorporated into this display of altered photographs and sculptural pieces and intends to evoke and dissect the many aspects of this ancient human/animal relationship: caretaking, affection, cruelty, superiority, sentimentality, exploitation, and aesthetic appreciation among them.