This artwork was created specifically for The New Zealand Society Campbell Island Teal Appeal in London, to support the Teal breeding programme at Mt Bruce (New Zealand) with the aim of establishing a sustainable resident population of Campbell Island Teal in their natural habitat in the subantarctic, with the ultimate goal of removing it from the ‘critically endangered’ species list. This initiative has the endorsement of the New Zealand Department of Conservation & the New Zealand Forest & Bird Association.
Evolved from a series of Anna Leary’s work exploring human dynamics and reciprocal response using the game of 0 & X to depict various scenarios, It’s a Sitting Duck is a game where there are no winners. The abstracted symbols morph to create lunar and revealed cross forms, but cumulatively there is no positive outcome; her personal stance on the extinction of species such as the Campbell Island Teal.
The preciousness of nature and the bird is represented by gold pigment juxtaposed with teal, a purely literal reference. The top three panels reminiscent of a seascape represent our journey through time, the waka our own personal present voyage. Dual circular and box forms allude to the pair bonding of the teal species, as our own, and the veil form revealing the Campbell Island Teal’s reality. Pushed to the brink of extinction with less than 20 birds remaining at one stage, the statistics represent the surges and decline of the birds population, initially on Dent and now too on Campbell Island thanks to breeding initiatives. The seemingly randomly but significant numbers overrun with tears; the artist’s response to this enigmatic, secretive birds plight – but it is still present, even if it is only a whisper or a shadow…