Paul Jackson

Self portrait with last Huia

Medium
oil on linen
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Paul Jackson doesn’t paint a great many self portraits, though ironically, both of his previously selected Archibald entries (in 1996 and 1983) were self portraits.

Over the past five years, Jackson has produced a series of work about extinction. The Huia is a recently extinct New Zealand bird. Their skins and tail feathers were used by the Maori as adornment and currency. ‘I’m not having a dig at the Maori,’ says Jackson ‘but the price we may pay for over-valuing something may unintentionally lead to its demise.’ Jackson sees this portrait as the final piece in the series. ‘I am owning the subject, acknowledging that I myself am culpable,’ he says. ‘The bird is tethered but loosely. It can either flee or stay put. There is a look of uncertainty on the bird’s face as there is uncertainty about when something actually becomes extinct.’ Jackson says he wanted a lot of space around the image while the rich monochromatic tones reinforce the simple, unsentimental but powerful message.

Born in Auckland in 1950, Jackson came to Australia in 1976 and now lives in Sydney. He has been exhibiting regularly since 1965 in New Zealand and Australia. Last year he had solo exhibitions entitled Maori land at The Arthouse in Christchurch and Huia, new works at Janne Land Gallery in Wellington, both of which dealt with the theme of extinction. He has also exhibited in numerous group shows. He won the Australian Maritime Art Award in 1985 and was a finalist in the Royal Blind Society National Sculpture Exhibition in 1985 and 1988. His work is represented in public and private collections in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the UK.