Michael Smither talks about Taranaki painting "Rocks with Mountain"

New Zealand Geographic magazine recently published an issue (number 67) focusing on the Taranaki region - and one of the most famous images of Mount Taranaki is the one with the stones and a rock pool in the foreground and a small red tractor on the horizon. This is a painting called Rocks with Mountain by Michael Smither.

I was surprised to read the rather sombre symbolism the artist saw in this painting, Smither is quoted in New Zealand Geographic "I was painting this at the time of the Czech revolution. Looking up, I saw the red tractor, the mountain, and the pool in the foreground with pink coralline on the rocks - and it struck me as being like the blood of martyrs, squeezed out and trickling down into these waters".

I'm not sure that this reading of such a well-known painting has ever been written about before - it certainly isn't an obvious interpretation of what appears today as straightforward representational painting (albeit with a radical viewpoint and interesting composition). Artist Photo Credit: Tom Turner/Art New Zealand

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