Somewhere buried deep inside us lies a connection to the natural world from a time when we were an integral part of it, and in these moments that closeness is awoken. –Nicholas Dillon
by Tony Orman
Whether one tramps, fishes, hunts or just strolls the beach or riverside, an intangible reward is observing nature. That often involves birds whether it be the friendly fantail, curious kea, river bed dotterel, the flash of indigo of a kingfisher, the busily fishing spoonbill or even the graceful white heron or some other species. The sight of wildlife and in particular birds enriches the outdoor recreation experience.
Nicolas Dillon of Marlborough — incidentally a fly fisherman — knows the intangible sensation well. In his book Drawn to the Wild he writes “It’s as if the ancient layers of evolution fall away and the distance between man and nature is lessened. Somewhere buried deep inside us lies a connection to the natural world from a time when we were an integral part of it, and in these moments that closeness is awoken.”
Going outdoors in the hills, on the river or to the estuary and coastline sooner or later leads the individual to observing and appreciating nature – and frequently birds.
Dillon’s art work of birds is the subject of his book.
Drawn to the Wild showcases 54 bird species, mostly seen in the field, sketched and finally finished in his studio in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley. Each bird species has his descriptions of locating, observing and painting them and their individual characteristics.
He draws in the field, using a high-powered spotting scope and capturing the living character of the birds observed.
Nicolas Dillon’s rural childhood was in Marlborough’s Waihopai Valley – a tributary of the Wairau. The hill country farm had been in the family since Constantine Dillon took up land in 1848.
His fascination with birds started when he was very young, with his earliest drawing at age six of a banded dotterel. From there his fascination continued and his artistic portrayals of birds developed.
A classy book
Drawn to the Wild has portraits of birds often encountered by trout anglers whether on a lowland stretch, the estuary or on a mountain river. From royal spoonbills in estuaries chasing fish “like crazed madmen”, to the delightful, curious bush robins and fantails in the beech forests, to the wilderness river where you might sight the cheeky kea or the native falcon, to the graceful white heron drifting through, to dotterels, kingfishers and others Nicolas Dillon’s collection gives vivid, thoughtful insights into the world of birds. And any of the 54 species depicted, the angler is likely to encounter.
Everything about this book is class from the publisher’s impeccable production to Nicolas Dillon’s sensitive writing and of course the beautiful paintings themselves.
This book is a personal tribute by an exceptional artist of New Zealand’s birdlife – a classy coffee table book which one can delve into over and over again.
Drawn to the Wild by Nicolas Dillon is published by Potton and Burton, recommended retail price $59.99