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The Fall of Man

on Thursday, 15 August 2013. Posted in Blog

The Fall of Man

I’ve just completed my latest series of work “The Fall of Man”. The series had its first showing at the 2013 Nelson Art Expo.

“The Fall of Man” is a series of works inspired by the trial and execution of the last man hanged in New Zealand on 18 February 1957. A jury of 12 men found Walter Bolton, a sheep farmer in his late 60’s, had poisoned his wife Beatrice with arsenic distilled from sheep dip.

The series title is drawn from The Book of Genesis and the casting out of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. In the context of this series the casting out is a reference to society turning its back on Walter Bolton through its judgment of him. Walter’s final fall from society was his execution.

The facts of Bolton’s case and subsequent questions about the reliability of his conviction were particularly compelling for me as were the issues of bias and predisposition which operate in our justice system. I was drawn to Walter an ordinary hardworking family man mourning the death of his wife. Facing the most extreme and final of outcomes Walter Bolton remained brave and stoic throughout his trial and to the very end.

I did sell a painting at the Nelson Art Expo. The Sheep Farmer was bought by a visitor from Canada. I’m happy that Walter portrayed as a strong and capable man has made his way to Canada. Ironically in more recent times New Zealand has borrowed heavily from Canadian Law in drafting numerous significant pieces of legislation.

In August 1963 a Bill of Rights was introduced to the New Zealand Parliament based on the Canadian equivalent. Because of a lack of support and/or interest the Bill was allowed to lapse in 1964. It wasn’t until 1990 that Parliament passed a Bill of Rights for all New Zealand citizens. However, unlike our Canadian counterparts the New Zealand Bill of Rights is a non-entrenched statute meaning the courts do not have the power to strike down legislation that conflicts with our constitutional rights. It also means that at any stage the New Zealand Bill of Rights could be repealed.

Other paintings from this series are available for sale in the Work section of my website.