Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum is proud to announce the hosting of a spectacular exhibition, Kermadec – Nine artists explore the South Pacific. Kermadec comprises new works by nine acclaimed South Pacific artists. Their collective inspiration was the result of an extraordinary expedition – made in 2011 – to the Kermadec Islands – located between NZ’s North Island and Tonga. They are a habitat to some of the world’s most diverse wild life and marine life. This is a rare ecosystem. Recent exploration has revealed that these islands are part of a 2,500 km chain of mostly underwater volcanoes – this line of mountains is the longest underwater volcanic arc on the planet and the most hydrothermally alive.
The artists were Dame Robin White, one of New Zealand’s greatest painters, Fiona Hall, a most accomplished and celebrated Australian contemporary artist and Gregory O’Brien, poet, artist and Curator of Kermadec. They were joined by sculptor Elizabeth Thomson, John Reynolds, one of the most celebrated NZ artists of his generation, photographers Jason O’Hara and Bruce Foster, printmaker and novelist John Pule and inter-media artist extraordinaire Phil Dadson.
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 wilderness areas on the planet.
The artists travelled to the Kermadecs on board the HMNZS Otago. For nearly a week they explored Raoul Island and imagined the Polynesian voyagers, adventurers and scientists who had traversed this remote region before them. Each artist found their own “Kermadec voice” and in their respective mediums has created an extraordinary story and exhibition. This resultant body of diverse work is a powerful statement of their unanimous commitment to first, confront the real issues that threaten this pristine environment and secondly, to alert New Zealanders and audiences throughout the world of the urgent need to safeguard this remarkable marine environment.
Pew Environment Group Kermadec Initiative director Bronwen Golder, who joined the artists on the journey, said: “The Kermadec exhibition shines a spotlight on this incredible, untouched place in our ocean. Through the eyes of the artists, we are invited to encounter and care for one of the greatest and least known ocean sites on the planet. Their works of art remind us that our ocean is precious, yet fragile.”
“New Zealanders care deeply about their environment. We encourage the Government to demonstrate New Zealand’s true commitment to the planet by establishing a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary for this unique area,” said Golder.
Dame Robin White’s contribution to the exhibition is three tapa cloths (ngatu) totalling over 16 metres in length celebrating the things that bind New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. It is a collaborative effort with respected Tongan tapa cloth maker Ruha Fifita. Dame Robin said “It was more than a journey, more than an adventure – it was an experience where we were united in our commitment to the purpose of the journey and the cause associated with it.”
Voyager NZ Maritime Museum’s CEO, Murray Reade said “It is a great honour for the Maritime Museum to host and welcome this spectacular exhibition – Kermadec. The subject matter, The Kermadecs sits very comfortably with the Museum. We are a seafaring nation with a profound maritime history and it is Voyager’s responsibility to embrace, celebrate and share these stories. The philosophy of conservation and preservation that has been the inspiration for these extraordinary works complements one of the primary tenants of this museum, that is, to pursue and protect the sustainability of our seas.”
Kermadec will be exhibited in the Edmiston Gallery and it is due to the generous support of the Edmiston Trust that the exhibition is showing at the Museum. The exhibition is produced and toured by the Pew Environment Group in association with Voyager NZ Maritime Museum and the Tauranga Art Gallery.
Includes John Pule
15 February – 2 July
Edmiston Gallery, Maritime Museum, Auckland.