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Untouched Kermadecs inspire art

‘Kermadec – Lines in the Ocean’ touring exhibition is making its last stop in New Zealand at Aratoi Museum of Art and History in Masterton.
The exhibition, which opened on the weekend, features the work of nine artists who, in 2011, were invited to voyage upon the HMNZS Otago from Devonport Naval Base in Auckland, northward through the Kermadec region, New Zealand’s most remote northern territory.
Each artwork is a reflection of their voyage and their experiences of the rolling seas, weather, wildlife, and islands of that region.
The art project was initiated by the Kermadec Initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, an organisation which is encouraging the protection of the heritage-rich and biologically diverse Kermadec waters through designation of a sanctuary.
The artist ‘seariders’ were Phil Dadson, Bruce Foster, Fiona Hall, Gregory O’Brien, Jason O’Hara, John Pule, John Reynolds, Elizabeth Thomson and Dame Robin White.
Walking through the exhibition, you will be taken on the journey as you witness documented film and art inspired by the voyage.
Elizabeth Thomson, a sculptor an installation artist, has created some of the most intricate pieces in the exhibition including lifelike rosettes formed with bronze, zinc, oil pigment, lacquer, hand-formed glass, acrylic on wood discs.
Her work has strong connections with biology, physics, and other areas of science.
Another standout of her work in the exhibition is a large blue ocean-esque planet piece made with what looks like thousands of small glass spheres.
Artist John Reynolds uses splashes of expressionist blue paint to sum up his sea-bound experience, as seen in a collection of nine abstract portraits of the ‘seariders’ which were created using oil paint, marker, acrylic, and rainwater on canvas.
Dame Robin White, who lives and works in Masterton, uses the materials and techniques of Tongan tapa-making to create a conceptual bridge between New Zealand and Pacific neighbours in the north.
Gregory O’Brien’s drawings explore systems of mapping and recording, whereas his paintings explore notions of ‘landfall’ and the transition between human and non-human worlds.
Ideas about nature, and humanity’s place in it, are at the heart of John Pule’s paintings and the etchings he has produced in collaboration with O’Brien.
Photo-artist and film-maker Bruce Foster explores the impact of human industry on the natural environment across the whole Pacific, bringing Easter Island as well as Raoul Island into focus.
Aratoi is the last venue for this touring exhibition, and there will be public programmes to mark the occasion including artist talks.

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