Aerial Antics is a pattern designed in response to the ongoing, predominantly static portrayal of the pied fantail (piwakawaka) in souvenirs and products, directed at both New Zealanders and foreigners. It is also a response to a personal experience that contradicts this common portrayal, and sets out to create a souvenir that acts as a substitute for the experience. The fantail, depicted perched on a branch at a 45 degree angle with tail splayed, has featured on postage stamps, the now obsolete NZ$1 note, local album covers, artists' works and an abundance of souvenirs. It even adorns all of Upper Hutt City's street signs.

Despite its generally static, isolated and rather flat depiction, the real encounter with a fantail is anything but. Known for its ‘cheeky antics and agile aerial manoeuvres', it is a lively, unpredictable and captivating bird. A fantail encounter is often intimate, as they commonly follow or play with people, leaving us searching for a glimpse through trees as they dart about.


Aerial Antics evokes the experience of catching a glimpse of a fantail in amongst light whilst looking up through trees: straining to distinguish bird from bush, complicated by looking into light, and the cheeky, relentless darting of the fantail. In the Aerial Antics blind and light shades, the pattern has been reduced to an outline, further broken into 1mm circles, and laser-cut into black Planosol. The resulting effect is barely visible, until a light source is introduced, and the mesh-like fabric is revealed. For the blind, the viewer is presented by a lifeless, black drop, until hung over a window either during daylight, or with other forms of light outside.


The introduction of light creates an unexpected surprise - a lively, playful and unpredictable pattern, dictated by the intensity and consistency of the light source and movement beyond the viewer's control. This works equally for passers-by, catching a pleasant and unexpected play when viewing the blind against a lit, and possibly, inhabited room. Likewise with the light shades, without an internal light source the fabric remains dormant and lifeless. Once the light is turned on, the pattern is brought to life - with interaction from the viewer further enhancing this experience.


- Genevieve Packer

Genevieve Packer, Aerial Antics, 2009.