Flight of Pollen

Board game launch

By Cushla McGaughey

Jill Hemming’s new board game, Flight of Pollen, will be launched

 ~ from  Mahara Gallery

~ on Saturday 2 September.

Research and illustrations for the game were the work of Waikanae artist, Cushla McGaughey.

Some of her bird paintings and original game illustrations feature in Mahara’s current environmental-themed exhibition, three new shows wonderfully curated by Director, Janet Bayly ( see story ‘He Kakano, Seed’ above ).

Waikanae has wonderful bird life

Kapiti Island; a large bird sanctuary just off shore. (Photo Chris Keating)

Uniquely privileged, Waikanae adjoins a wetland of national significance. Nga Manu Nature Reserve is another outstanding neighbour. Kapiti Island, just 5 km offshore, is one of our oldest, most important bird sanctuaries.

We have an exceptionally fine range of garden visitors as well. Such a rich environment offers endless stimulation for a wildlife painter.

Being free to work purely as an artist allows me full choice of subject and presentation.

Working as a game illustrator, however, means that the game designer’s purpose and player engagement must come first. Either way, thorough research is needed, as well as careful observation, whether trying to capture the essential character of a bird or a flower. But the focus in each case is very different.

In search of accuracy

Tui cameo

Accurate portrayal of our birds requires widening the research to their forest and wetland habitats.  That has added significance because the conditions for their survival also relate to the quality of air we breathe and water we drink.

Portraying the process from pollen to seed involved having to change from a telescopic to a microscopic view. It took months of detailed study into plant and animal form and function. Overall, it’s about renewing the forest, but the process has added importance because it also relates to growing the food we eat.

So Flight of Pollen is not just about having fun, meeting challenges or even learning concepts, though it’s all that too. Playing the game is actually to engage in the vital process on which forest survival – and food crop production – ultimately depends.