Ben Reid is a local printmaker whose interest lies in the fragile relationship that New Zealanders have with the natural environment and its ecosystems.
Since 2005, the subject of Reid’s prints has encompassed hunting trophies, Victorian wallpaper patterns, native flora and fauna, exotic predators, Butcher shop signs, rabbits, Beswick ducks, wild deer, a lighthouse keeper’s cat and birds such as the Brown Teal, the extinct Huia and the Chatham Island Tāiko. Reid brings together a myriad of references that draw attention to the complexity of a relationship with the natural world that has been both exploitative and beneficial to humanity.
In his work, patterns add beauty, but also serve as a metaphor for the New Zealand environment. You will notice a single wasp incorporated into the stylized pattern that sits behind the parrot.
In ‘the weight of feathers’ the parrot species (either Kākā, Kea, or Kākāriki), has a tension about it, like it’s falling, it looks slightly awkward, difficult. This is deliberate. It speaks of the plight of these special and unique native species.
When Reid considers ideas for his work, he is generally unsatisfied depicting something in the way you would expect.
That is why there will always be some alteration, manipulation, addition or subtraction to the original form in his work. These ‘alterations’ add layers, meaning and complexity to the picture.
Reid suggest to study, contemplate and reflect on each of his works. They will always tell you a story. Sometime obvious, sometime not.