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‘Summer in Antarctica & Winter in Wellington’

‘Summer in Antarctica & Winter in Wellington’


An exhibition by

In conjunction with Ceramicus 08

Venue    Academy Galleries, Queens Wharf – Wellington

Season    Saturday 20th – Monday 29th September 2008

Open 10am – 5pm daily

This spring, visitors to the Academy Galleries should be prepared for a cool experience surrounded by paintings and ceramics.  Paintings of the Antarctic’s unique landscape will hang together with portraits of Wellington in autumn and winter dress in a major exhibition by Wellington-based artist and marine engineer Alfred Memelink.   At the same time, the Wellington’s Potters Association’s 50th anniversary exhibition, Ceramicus 08, with guest Paul Melser, will occupy the floor space in the galleries.

The Antarctic works are based on Memelink’s summer  voyage to Antarctica on the NIWA research ship RV TANGAROA.  A research voyage funded by Land Information New Zealand, (LINZ)  in support of the International Polar Year Census of Antarctic Marine Life (IPY-CAML) and the New Zealand Government’s Ocean Survey 20/20 Programme.  Apart from the amazing landscape, wildlife and seeing Ross Island for the first time, home of Scott Base and Mount Erebus, Memelink was particularly inspired by the icebergs in the


“The Ross Sea is like a huge and fascinating Henry Moore sculpture garden,” he says. “The life and metamorphosis of an iceberg are amazing, each one conceived millions of years ago as snow in a glacier, then ‘calved’ off into the sea where it is continually being sculptured into new artistic shapes by the weather, sea and repeatedly flipping over, each time its centre of gravity changes. ”

“At one stage when we were sailing as close to the South Pole as is possible by ship, we cruised beneath a mammoth 23km long iceberg named B15J, and it was just like sailing beneath the white cliffs of Dover.” 

Memelink says he was made conscious of the fragility of the region and the importance of protecting its resources. “If all the ice melted in Antarctica, it would equate to a 60m sea level rise.  This highlights the importance of the need to bring this environment back to equilibrium – to where the snow that falls is about equal to the iceberg melt.  As well as threats to ecosystems by overfishing, Antarctica is also mineral rich.  The area must be protected and all efforts made to ensure that Antarctica becomes an International Park,” he says. 

What makes each Antarctic painting unique is that embedded into the protective mat surround of the painting, is an Antarctic Glacial Erratic Stone.  This is a stone, millions of years old and picked up by glaciers as they slowly grind over Antarctic continent bedrock.  The stone journeys across Antarctica, drifts into the Ross Sea and as the iceberg is slowly sculptured and melts, it gives up the stone again and it drops to the seabed, hence they are sometimes also called ‘drop stones’.

The other part of Memelink’s show is his Wellington paintings, covering the region from Kapiti to Island Bay, but focusing particularly on the central city.

“There is something magical about city life in winter.  When it rains and a southerly blows, the usual mindset is to dash to wherever one needs to be.  In the hurry, with heads bent low or hiding under colourful and blown out umbrellas, people often miss the amazing light and colour show.”

At 10am on Saturday September 20, Memelink will give a free talk about the Antarctic voyage and icebergs. This will be followed at 11am by a talk by guest potter Paul Melser titled "The Art/Utility Schism".

Summer in Antarctica & Winter in Wellington In conjunction with Ceramicus 08 is on at the

Academy Galleries, Queens Wharf , Wellington, from

Saturday September 20 to Monday September 29, 2008. Admission is free and the galleries are open from Admission is free and the galleries are open from 10am to 5pm daily.

Memelink’s adventures to the south and portfolio of some of the paintings of the exhibition can be previewed at   http://www.memelink.co.nz/content/gallery/antarctica.htm


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