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River brings art and science together

Wed, 04 Aug 2004

River brings art and science together

Artists and scientists have joined forces for a unique exhibition, profiling the changing times of an important New Zealand river.

Travelling River opens at Nelson's Suter Art Gallery on Friday. It surveys the Motueka River catchment, weaving together photographs and stories from the community, and photographs, maps, charts and report extracts from scientists researching the river and landscape.The exhibition also features the poetry and voice of local poet Cliff Fell, who last week won the best first book of poetry prize at the Montana Book Awards.

Curators for the exhibition are Nelson artist and lecturer Suzie Peacock, artist and landscape architect Maggie Atkinson and Andrew Fenemor, an environmental scientist with Landcare Research in Nelson."We have assembled about 270 photographs and stories from the public and from scientists working in the Motueka catchment, and woven them together for the exhibition," Ms Atkinson says.
"The science in the exhibition includes material from the Integrated Catchment Management Programme (ICM), a long term study of the health and changing uses of the river and surrounding land, from the mountains to the sea. "It may seem unusual for science to be integral to an art exhibition. In this case, the scientists' visual imagery, language, ideas and passion for their research are all in there * as is the resourceful nature of the research itself."Exhibition co-curator Andrew Fenemor heads the ICM project, which includes scientists from the Cawthron Institute and the Tasman District Council, as well as Landcare Research.

Mr Fenemor says the Motueka catchment is a fascinating subject for research as well as for art. "The Tasman District has the fastest growing population in New Zealand, and the catchment faces numerous and competing land-use pressures. "Broadly speaking, it's a microcosm of changes throughout New Zealand in the last two centuries, which have shifted from stripping the land for agriculture, to managing landscapes for a blend of production, conservation and tourism purposes.""Sustainable management for the future requires heart. You have to believe you can do it, and it has to be a community effort. We hope this exhibition will give insights into the lives of various sectors of the community, and relate these to our environmental science knowledge."Mr Fenemor says the photos submitted for the exhibition have taught him a good deal about local history and people.

"Many of the photos provide more information about past practices in farming, forestry and goldmining. They show various civic openings and festivals, and reveal just how much the community has changed."

Travelling River is the outcome of one of three pilot projects in the 'Smash Palace' Collaborations Fund set up by Creative NZ and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology to foster art*science initiatives.There are plans to take the exhibition on to the Ngatimoti School hall in October, to coincide with a reunion of the first European settlers in the district; and then to Motueka. Travelling River: The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatu, 208 Bridge St, NelsonMedia are invited to the opening of the exhibition on Friday, 6 August, at 5.30 pm.


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