Paul Martinson: sleeper dreamer space adventure

Working as a DSIR technician in the 1980s gave Paul Martinson a deep insight into the individuality of animals. His passion for science and sensitivity to the natural world informs his latest exhibition at Aratoi, covering work from the past five years.
'I saw experiments on animals and began to see they were all individual. Each behaved in an entirely different way,' he says. A career changer for him was illustrating the landmark book 'Extinct Birds of New Zealand', published by Te Papa in 2006. This inspired his series of large paintings of exquisitely detailed birds and female figures.
More recently, the self-taught Masterton-based artist has been delving into quantum mechanics, becoming fascinated with the aspect that suggests some subatomic particles can become 'entangled and forever aware of each other's spin no matter how far apart they are'.  Godwits are a theme as an emerging theory suggests they navigate using the Earth's magnetic field as a guide. Even more remarkably, they may be able to visualise this field by detecting quantum entanglement, something currently beyond human powers. Martinson's light bulb imagery stems from the fact that scientists made the first steps in quantum mechanics by trying to understand how electricity works.
But he says a literal understanding of this frankly mind-blowing sphere is not the point: 'Even if you misunderstand something like quantum mechanics you can still be inspired by the extraordinary ideas it throws up. There is a long history of artists being inspired by science, and I see science and art as inseparable twins.'
'Paul Martinson: sleeper dreamer space adventure' until 19 February 2017.
'The molten anger of his heart'
'There is something manly and powerful in him, even though he doesn’t say or do anything in particular. I hope to come into closer contact with him someday' So wrote a young Vincent Van Gogh about Petrus van der Velden. The artists never met, as the older set sail from The Netherlands to New Zealand in 1890, likely due to an invitation from Gerrit van Asch, the pioneer teacher of the deaf in Christchurch. Until his death in Auckland in 1913, Van der Velden influenced NZ artists to introduce more emotion into their painting, and  art historian Peter Tomory wrote: 'As he painted ... the molten anger of his heart found an expressive catharsis in the molten geology of New Zealand.'
'Petrus van der Velden: Art of two halves,' until 5 February 2017.

Details from Paul Martinson’s 'Electrical metamorphic portal' (left) and Petrus van der Velden’s 'Mountain stream, Otira Gorge’ (c. 1893). Te Papa.