10 JUN. - 15 JUL. 2017
Malcolm Smith Gallery, Auckland, NZ
ESTUARY ART AND ECOLOGY PRIZE 2017 - FIRST PLACE RECIPIENT
About the award: The only contemporary art prize in Aotearoa New Zealand with ecology at its core. Fostering intelligent and innovative responses to ecology in the field of contemporary art. Artists were invited to research and respond to the Tāmaki Estuary, to underscore the ecological value of this vital waterway and encourage action against its pollution.
The Tāmaki Estuary’s riparian area was once inhabited by a biologically diverse array of native forests and wetlands. Approximately 81% of the Tāmaki Makaurau region’s riparian vegetation is now deforested due to encroaching land development. The necessity for communities to restore these areas has become vital.
Offerings invites audience members to select a plant once the exhibition commences and then plant it near the estuary or at a location of one's choosing. These native plants have been specifically selected for their ability to stabilise the estuaries banks, provide habitats for wildlife and improve water quality.
While this gesture attempts to offer positive piecemeal change to the physical environment of the Tāmaki Estuary, it also serves as a catalyst for social interrelations to form between audience members, both in and beyond the gallery, as each plant is dispersed. Through gifting these plants I hope to initiate small social exchanges and bonds that ripple out through the Tāmaki Estuary and community.
STATEMENT, ANE TONGA - EAA 2017 JUDGE
"The artist’s distinctive gathering of ubiquitous materials which includes a collection of plants, placed on a found tabletop with an ultraviolet LED light suspended above, is in equal parts intriguing, elegant and, dare I say, outright beautiful. I selected this work, partly, because of its sheer ‘look at me’ audacity.
However, Offerings is also rich in inflections. The participative installation work allows gallery visitors to select one of the displayed plants to be placed nearby the Tamaki Estuary or a place of their choosing. Each plant was selected for its ability to stabilise the estuary banks, improve water quality and provide habitat for wildlife. Though a seemingly small gesture, the ecological issues which underpin the participatory element of this work are made explicit: both this ‘artwork’ and the estuary need us to activate it in order to make positive change. The work shifts from slow burn to packing a punch and in this way holds us accountable to the Estuary.
At the heart of this project are a transfusion of ecological values and Tyler-Dunshea’s ability to think beyond the gallery walls to find ways for artworks to have real-life applicability. The artist’s pursuit of the potential of art to positively impact the Tamaki Estuary is ambitious and, for this reason, awarded the first prize."