Stuff New Zealand – Kate Green

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When science meets arts: Eleven international artists on display in Whirinaki exhibition, with a focus on climate change

Excerpt from article by By Kate Green

March 14, 2022

The world’s glaciers are in peril, and it’s not just scientists getting the word out, but artists too.

Meltdown: Visualising Climate Change features work from 11 international artists with a focus on the world’s glaciers and the impact of climate change on their fate.

On now at Whirinaki Whare Taonga​​ in Upper Hutt until May 8, the exhibition leads the viewer on a scientific, illustrative, and poetic journey of climate change.

It’s presented in conjunction with the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts by climate change charity Project Pressure, which uses art to inspire action and behavioural change.

Since 2008, the project has been commissioning world-renowned artists to conduct expeditions around the world, each developed alongside scientists to ensure accuracy.

Artists hail from the United States, Canada, Nigeria, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, and Ireland.

French Artist Noémie Goudal challenges the notion of stability with her large-scale photographic installation printed on biodegradable paper, which disintegrates when wet.

Simon Norfolk and Klaus Thymann look at the peculiar example of the Rhône glacier being covered in geo-thermal cloth to limit melting.

American photographer Cory Arnold captures the sea and tidal glaciers changes in the Arctic, and conceptual documentary photographer Richard Mosse uses a large-format plate-film camera to photograph the ice cave under the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland.

Whirinaki director Leanne Wickham​ said the exhibition showed each artist’s unique take on the subject, giving visitors an insight into the world’s frozen spaces, and their fragile ecosystems.

Alongside the exhibition, Whirinaki will be hosting a World Water Day celebration on March 20, where visitors can bring along a jar and make their own terrarium, as well as watch an ice sculpture be created and melted.

Renate Aller’s photograph of the Rocky Mountains and Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, USA (2011) printed on wood veneer.

Renate Aller has a lineup of eight photographs in the exhibition. Each print is a metre in size, and although they show different landscapes, they combine into one immersive experience.​

“When you see one image, half your eye sees the next one,” she said.

The photographs are printed large on wood veneer, an underlying – literally – reminder of the need to be mindful and respectful of our planet and its resources.

This is only the second time her works have been shown in this form, the first in Slovania.

Aller is German, but spent time living in London before moving to New York, and then to a house on stilts on the edge of the ocean on Long Island while her husband was away travelling.

Renate Aller’s photograph of the Atlantic Ocean, USA (2016), UV print on wood veneer, which she took from Long Island.

​“It was in winter, I was all by myself, and I started taking photos of the ocean,” she said. “I think I was trying to find my bearings. If you move from England to New York, you feel like a little fish in a big ocean.”

She loved noticing the subtle changes between the photos from one week to the next, and her aim was to connect people to her subjects.

“When I take images of mountains and glaciers, I look at them like portraits,” she said.

Noémi Goudal’s “Glacier II”, which is part of the exhibition.

Simon Norfolk and Klaus Thymann’s work Shroud IV (2018) is part of a new exhibition at Whirinaki Whare Taonga in Upper Hutt, featuring art focusing on glaciers and their threatened status due to climate change.

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