In May 2011 I was invited to join eight of New Zealand’s leading artists (Phil Dadson, Bruce Foster, Fiona Hall, Gregory O’Brien, John Pule, John Reynolds, Elizabeth Thomson, Robin White) on the HMNZS Otago to one of the most significant pristine places on the planet – the Kermadec Islands.
The Kermadecs are the most remote part of New Zealand. Despite their natural and historical significance, our awareness of the islands and surrounding waters is slight. The Kermadec Artists Voyage provided us an opportunity to document a unique encounter with one of the greatest, least known, pristine ocean sites on the planet.
When we, the ‘Kermadec’ artists, became involved in this project, our intention was to, artistically, make the most of the extraordinary opportunity with which we had been presented. As it happened, the initial voyage and our subsequent involvement came to affect all of us in ways we never imagined. In the two years since the project began, we have come to a deep and unequivocal awareness of the need for marine sanctuaries, such as the one proposed for the Kermadec waters.
Works from all nine artists has formed a touring exhibition which opened in Tauranga Art Gallery in November 2011. Other galleries the exhibition has been include City Gallery Wellington, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago Chile, NZ Maritime Museum Auckland, the Tjibaou centre in Nouméa, New Caledonia and many provincial galleries around New Zealand.
In September 2015 the New Zealand Government announced the creation of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary (Read more on Stuff) which represents a huge success after years of hard work by many. Absolutely fantastic news and I am super proud to be associated with creating one of the largest marine sanctuaries in the world! A huge up to PEW environment group, the scientists, environmentalists and artists involved in the project. Well done to the NZ government, congratulations New Zealand.
ABOUT THE KERMADECS:
The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully protected areas. It includes the second deepest ocean trench at over 10 kilometres, deeper than Mt Everest is tall, and an arc of 30 underwater volcanoes, the largest anywhere on earth.