A bird’s-eye view is an imaginary way of looking and has been used by New Zealand artists to create works which address the land and its inhabitants. During the early 19th century, amateur artists adopted this perspective and the watercolours they produced are New Zealand’s first aerial panoramas.
A century later, in Takaka: night and day, 1948 Colin McCahon also looked at place from above, showing time changing across an expanse of land. McCahon again adopted a high vantage point in Rocks at French Bay, 1959, but combined multiple views across and above Manukau Harbour so that close-up and distant scenes coalesce.
Different degrees of elevation and strong points of view in paintings by Gretchen Albrecht, John Reynolds and Stephen Bambury evoke changing light, movement and mapping, while demonstrating a marked evolution towards abstract representations of place and events.
Jim Allen wrote that his Light Modulator, 2012 was ‘based on an abstraction of a torso figure shape’. He suggests that looking at form, shape and volume can create a ‘flight plan’ towards the body.
Flight Plan shows the role of perspective in the representation of time, light, motion, land and people.