Summer visitors to the Tauranga Art Gallery will be among the first in the world to see work in a significant new exhibition, Kermadec.
Kermadec is an exhibition of all-new work by nine South Pacific artists, inspired by a unique expedition along the Kermadec Trench. It features work by artists including Te Puke-born Dame Robin White, Wellington-based poet and artist Gregory O’Brien, sculptor Elizabeth Thomson, and installation artist John Reynolds.
Completing the line-up are printmaker and novelist John Pule, photographers Jason O’Hara and Bruce Foster, inter-media artist Phil Dadson, and acclaimed Australian artist Fiona Hall.
The artists travelled on board the HMNZS Otago to one of the least known wilderness areas in the world. The Kermadecs, located between New Zealand’s North Island and Tonga, is home to a diverse range of wildlife and marine life, and also has a series of underwater volvanoes and a deep-sea trench. Tauranga plays first host to the exhibition as it is the closest public art gallery to the Kermadec Trench.
Gallery Director Penelope Jackson says in light of recent events around the Rena stranding, the exhibition offers a more positive angle about the ocean, which is quite literally at our back door.
“This is not just an exhibition of pretty pictures of the South Pacific but rather showcases how a group of contemporary artists were inspired and affected by their voyage. Each of them has taken the South Pacific to a different level, whether it is Elizabeth Thomson looking at the micro worlds on Raoul Island or Dame Robin White’s tapa cloth that tells, in part, the stories of migration.”
Artist Gregory O’Brien says the trip in May was intense.
“It was rough and noisy and busy. Everyone was working pretty much every second of the way. The intensity of it was surprising,” he says.
The artists involved were a dynamic, diverse and positive group of people.
“What’s going to make it a great show is that it has very diverse ingredients and characters, kind of like the ingredients for a really good soup.”
The Kermadec Initiative is a project of the Global Ocean Legacy programme of the Pew Environment Group. As a supporter of the artists’ voyage and exhibition, The Pew Environment Group is looking to raise awareness about one of the greatest, least known, natural ocean wilderness areas on the planet.
“We took artists to the Kermadecs so they could experience its scale, see its surface and imagine the diversity of its depths,” said Bronwen Golder, director of Pew’s Kermadecs Initiative.
“I watched the artists gather impressions and emotions from the Kermadec ocean and its islands, and with them, begin to conjure words and images.”
Kermadec opens in full to the public on Saturday 19 November and runs through until Sunday 5 February 2012.