Melissa Boardman is a Wellington based artist and illustrator whose work focuses on the birdlife that inhabits the forests, seas and shores of New Zealand. Through her art practice she celebrates the unique qualities of NZ birds and their relationships with the plants and trees that are the essence of our native forests. Melissa finds the variety of birds found in NZ endlessly inspiring, and while embracing the popularity of well-known native birds, also strives to include rarer and more obscure species in her work.
Melissa has a deep respect for nature, she frequents local wildlife sanctuaries, estuaries and protected islands, quietly observing and photographing birds in their natural habitats. She studies their behaviour in order to portray their characteristics through her work, and uses her own experiences and photographs as inspiration for her illustrations. Melissa is also inspired by the fragile bond between native flora and fauna, their dependency on one another and the crucial roles they play in each others existence, which is an ongoing theme in her work.
Melissa makes fine art prints from her gouache illustrations, and a range of both decorative and functional illustrated ceramics. She also creates a range of eco-friendly stationery including calendars and greeting cards, as well as other small illustrated goods. Melissa works from her home-studio where she reaps the benefits of living close to Zealandia wildlife sanctuary and Otari-Wilton’s Bush, her home is frequented by native birds which provide her with an abundance of inspiration.
New Zealand's unique birds
Many NZ native birds have populations only in the hundreds, and sadly very few are plentiful. The most well-known birds have become iconic, and although Melissa embraces the popularity of such birds, she chooses not to overlook the rarer birds, that may not necessarily be cute or friendly, but are special and unique in their own way.
It is important to know that you won't find many native birds floating around neighbourhood gardens, or even throughout the majority of mainland New Zealand. Most only manage to survive within the safety predator controlled areas, in fenced sanctuaries and on offshore islands. Deforestation and introduced predators such as Possums, Rats and Stoats are making survival extremely tough for the native wildlife of New Zealand, so predator proof sanctuaries are a haven for birds to live and help re-establish populations of our most vulnerable birds.
Most New Zealanders don't know much about our most rare birds, and Melissa's aim is to raise a little bit of awareness of the lesser known birds by sharing her art, photographs and information about them on social media.
All of Melissa’s goods are hand made using the most eco-friendly materials and processes available.
Only recycled paper is used in stationery (except in fine art prints, where the paper is as eco-friendly as possible, while also being archival) Only recycled and recyclable materials are used in packaging (no plastic) and if extra protection is needed, plant based cellophane-like sleeves are used.