Artist Shaun Burdon has designed realistic sculptures on commission, such as the Dog Trials Memorial at Mt Iron, Wanaka, but his paintings invite the viewer to bring their own interpretations.
Burdon, who lives in Bendigo with his partner and fellow artist, Jillian Porteous, has a fascination with ancient history, scripts and language, and his works are inspired by early records of runes and hieroglyphics.
One large canvas he is working on takes a bronze plaque from the ancient city of Byblos as its inspiration.
Burdon said nobody had ever been able to decipher the symbols on the plaque, and joked that it could just be a shopping list.
Another work used as a starting point a last message written by a castaway who died alone and stranded on the Auckland Islands.
Obviously near death when he wrote the piece, the message was also indecipherable, Burdon said.
‘‘What intrigues me is the ambiguity and that we are never quite sure of anything, especially with some of these old scripts.
‘‘It leaves it open for each viewer to see it their own way. We all see pieces differently. We bring our own associations with us.’’
Burdon, a former lecturer in painting and life drawing for the Dunedin School of Art, said all art was an illusion and just colours on a surface that our brains reinterpreted.
He quoted Picasso as saying he painted the way he did to draw the viewer’s mind in a direction it was not used to.
In addition to his paintings and sculpture works, Burdon also worked with computer design and said he saw computers as just another medium, like woodcuts or painting — ‘‘just using another tool’’.
His works also referenced social media and the ‘‘deluge of information’’ we received, he said.
‘‘All scripts came from pictures and evolved and were simplified — I’m kind of going backwards.’’
Burdon and Porteous are part of the Indigo group of artists, an informal collaboration of eight Central Otago artists who curate and mount group exhibitions of their work.
The next group exhibition will be in Kaiapoi from July 14-August 17, followed by the Arrowtown Museum and Art Gallery October 6-November 6.