Artists in the South Pacific
From May 10-20, nine artists from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are journeying onboard the Royal New Zealand Navy vessel, HMNZS Otago, to the remote and rarely visited Kermadec Islands (map).
Located between New Zealand's North Island and Tonga, the 15 islands and rocks of the Kermadecs and its surrounding waters are a place for exploration and discovery. Significant to New Zealand and the world, the region provides an important safe haven for threatened species, and an underwater frontier that scientists are only now beginning to explore.
Here, globally significant marine life co-exists with underwater volcanoes and the deepest ocean trench in the Southern Hemisphere. A third of all known New Zealand fish, sharks and rays live amid the volcanoes of Kermadec Ridge, an extensive undersea formation.
The artists, whose participation is sponsored by the Pew Environment Group's Global Ocean Legacy project, will create new works of art upon their return that are inspired by the beauty, history and biodiversity of the Kermadecs.
You're invited to travel along with the artists as they discover one of the most remarkable places on Earth. During the voyage, we'll highlight dispatches direct from the artists.
"The Kermadec project is proving a richly, gloriously paradoxical proposition for all the artists on board. This much I know from talking to all the artists concerned. The prospect of travelling into such a fresh, untrammelled region of the planet is already filling each of us with expectancy. On this voyage, we are all expecting to experience revelations, illuminations, epiphanies. Our understanding and knowledge of the world will be enriched, without doubt--so the voyage can be thought of as a fact-finding mission, a gathering of source material. At the same time the experience, I expect, will also involve for each of us a sense of losing our bearings, and that is something equally important. We are moving into a realm where imagination will be inspired and provoked in ways that are impossible to foresee. The vastness and depth of the ocean, and the complexities of life therein, are beyond human comprehension--so we are moving into an abstract, mysterious, perplexing realm.
"A sense of wonder as well as curiousity will permeate our experience of the week at sea. The prospect of experiencing 'the ocean' on many levels and, of course, of developing an artistic response to it, is a rare privilege. The presence of scientists, naval personnel and others on the boat will ensure much good talk, to accompany the more solitary endeavours of the artistic contingent."
- Gregory O'Brien, Wellington-based writer and painter
“The prospect of travelling along the surface of one of the ocean's deepest fissures is an exhilarating one - that is matched, conversely, by the sobering fact of the planet's threatened ecosystems, and by the depth of the challenge we are all faced with to preserve them.”
- Fiona Hall, internationally acclaimed contemporary Australian artist