9 July – 19 August, 2018
I was thrilled to be announced winner of this year’s Estuary Art & Ecology Prize organised by Malcolm Smith Gallery, UXBRIDGE Arts & Culture in Howick, Auckland.
My work Unplugged responded to the Tāmaki Estuary, to underscore the ecological value of this vital waterway and encourage action against its pollution.
The catalyst for this artwork is a book purchased in a charity shop, ‘Auckland Unplugged, Coping with Critical Infrastructure Failure’.* The book reports on the electricity blackout that disrupted Auckland’s central business district for five weeks over the summer of 1998 revealing a vulnerable city infrastructure requiring detailed risk evaluation in order to maintain efficiency. This crisis highlights our dependence not only on power supply but also town water supply and waste management and exacerbates a future of unsustainable uncertainty. These networks are interconnected with population growth and consumption placing huge demands on this post-industrial oasis. In attempting to create an artwork that conveys the adverse human impact on the environment, while acknowledging the waterways of the Tāmaki estuary and indeed the many contaminated waterways of Aotearoa, New Zealand, the book ‘Auckland Unplugged..’ is ironically reduced to pure carbon to be used as a filtering agent to hypothetically purify (or unblock) our polluted waters.
The artwork comprises the carbon remains of the book stored in a reagent bottle with the book title etched on the glass and photographic evidence of estuary water before and after filtration.
* Newlove, Lindy. Eric Stern, Lina Svedin. Lanham, Md. : Lexington Books, 2003
The judge, Paul Brobbel had this to say of my work:
“A work that stands askew from the other works in the exhibition. Unplugged is, on first consideration, a challenging artwork – intelligent with possibly an element of humour to some. But tilting at the political, the bureaucratic and the pathetic, this work adds a unique element of anger and aggression to the exhibition. Unplugged is still, like all the works here, optimistic, but the artist took a much more visceral ride to get there.”
Above is the original book and the carbon remains following slow pyrolysis. The ‘book’ was then crushed and used in a home made water filter.