Russell Moses' art has always been informed by the natural environment. From Matauri Bay to Giverny, the artist has found inspiration in nature and in human interactions with nature.
In The Sound of Hanging Gardens, it is one of New Zealand's most inspirational natural features, Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, which has energised the artist. Overwhelmed by the breathtaking verticality of the terrain, Moses felt he was entering a cathedral in, and to, the natural world, and was reminded of hanging gardens constructed by architects to create a more natural environment. (1) Ironically this creates a feedback of nature being reminiscent of simulated nature, rather than the expected reverse.
Moses' work is still dominated by deep colour-fieldesque abstraction, with tone and texture remaining primary over pictorial representationalism. A distinct landscape has, however, become apparent in several of Moses' arrays. The play of water on the sound and the solidity of the peaks is visible in the subtle angular variations in tone in works such as Towards Mitre Peak and Ouches of Emerald, which shimmer and shift as the viewer moves around them. The panels become a nephrite and sapphire love sonnet to Fiordland, its nature, its heritage, and its beauty.
The motility and mutability is produced by the use of luminescent pearl-finish paints, channelling and harnessing the light to simulate the shimmering play of sunlight on the water and bush. The pearlescence also evokes the blue depths of the Pacific and the texture and mana of pounamu, a taonga long associated with the country's southwest.