Famous NZ landscape painter Grahame Sydney (in his role as outspoken opponent to Meridian's proposed wind farm on the Lammermoor Range in central Otago) has been saying some interesting things in recent interviews that give a revealing insight into how he views his artistic relationship with the NZ (particularly Otago) landscape. For instance in his written submission on behalf of the Maniototo Environmental Society to the Environment Court hearing back in 2008 Sydney wrote that "landscapes had a power and a meaning which was real, mysterious, andvital to many people's sense of identity. They play a vital role, aesthetic, cultural and spiritual, in the lives of New Zealanders." Sydney also claimed that "Central Otago landscapes had a greater capacity to affect people's imagination than most others in New Zealand." This could be the matter of some debate as arguably many NZers relate at least as strongly to a painting of a pohutukawa fringed beach or a view of Mt Cook as they might to a landscape in Central Otago.
In another interview with the Dominion Post the painter is quoted as saying "What people don't get is that beauty does not have to be scenic majesty like mountains and lakes. There are many different types of beauty. Some people would look on this and just see bleak barren wasteland, but I see it as something unique and something very particular and special to Central Otago. I love it up here. I find it absolutely exhilarating."
The picture shown here is Grahame Sydney with the graffiti style defaced print of Timeless Land - a 2008 fundraiser for the "Save Central" campaign formed to fight wind-farm development in the Central Otago landscapes that he loves to paint. [Photo Credit: Diane Brown ODT]. His defaced artwork was "a way of delivering the extent to which I feel the whole energy push is an insult to landscapes - especially ones I love the most, and the feeling that we have to make better decisions than this because the change to landscapes supposedly of a temporary nature, result in permanent damage, and there are better ways".
The wind farm debate is an interesting battle between the needs of business and electricity consumers and those to whom the aesthetic appreciation of a landscape is the over-riding consideration. It is an intriguing twist in the story that artistic or aesthetic grounds would not have been made such an important factor in the opposition to the Central Otago windfarm development before the paintings of artists like Grahame Sydney!