White Gold was developed as an installation for The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū in 2009. It then travelled to Forrester Gallery in Oamaru and Southland Museum & Art Gallery in Invercargill, before Dairy NZ installed it in their Head Office in Hamilton until 2018.
Living next to the O’Connor dairy farm on the Waimea Plains, Sally Burton has observed the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of the dairy industry. Her portraits of cows are based on records of the O’Connor family farm, and some of the cows have historic herd names. Others have brand icons hidden in their Friesian black and white coats, reflecting aspects of the dairy industry, and the use of by-products such as Friesian meat and leather. This highlights how the industry has become a global player and how important it is to New Zealand’s GDP.
Sally’s motivation to draw attention to the history of cows was, however, inspired by her 2006-07 artist residency in Sanskriti, India. Cows have a completely difference status in Indian culture, with their milk being used in religious ceremony as the “essence of life”. Added to this is the charming story of Ann O’Connor, who, in the mid-1800s, was working as a wetnurse for the third child of the founding family of Lloyd’s of London. The Lloyd’s first two children had died in infancy and the parents were so grateful to Ann for the survival of their youngest child that they gave her enough money to immigrate to New Zealand with her family. Here they purchased land on the Waimea Plains and named their new home Donnybrook, which is still owned and farmed by the O’Connor family.
The lineage of the O’Connor farm is an important example of the region’s history, particularly given the impact of changing agricultural interests, urban sprawl, and conversion to lifestyle blocks. Since 2009, when ‘White Gold’ was made, awareness of the issues around water, the use of plastics, and pollution associated with dairying has grown exponentially.
Sally Burton is a well-respected and established Nelson-based artist. She studied at Canterbury School of Fine Arts and taught for 25 years, before becoming a full-time painter. Sally has a strong reputation as a narrative painter with a focus on historical and colonial subjects. Her most recent installation, Pale History, a visual interpretation of the Wairau Tragedy of June 17, 1843, opened at The Suter Art Gallery in 2018, before travelling to Pataka Art + Museum in Porirua. It will next be exhibited at Blenheim’s Millennium Public Art Gallery in June 2020, and Hamilton’s Waikato Museum from October 2020 to January 2021. Sally’s work is represented in national and international collections, and her three pieces in the Suter’s collection are regarded as amongst its most popular and enduring art works.
You can learn more about Sally at www.sallyburton.co.nz
Work: White Gold, 2009, tapa cloth, filter cloth, canvas, acrylic paint, found rubbish related to dairying.
This property is owned by Gibbons. Thanks Gibbons!