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WW1 Centenary Remembrance - Living Floral Carpets

MEDIA RELEASE

Living Remembrance Floral Carpets

17th – 23rd February 2014

Whangarei Town Basin Cultural Precinct

The Whangarei Art Museum is delighted to announce The Lottery World War One Commemorations Environment & Heritage Board have approved and application by the art museum to create five living floral commemorative carpets next year as part of official WW100 national commemorations. A grant of $12,000 towards the creation and installation of outdoor tribute carpets was announced this month.

The art museum will be establishing an advisory committee to implement what will be seen as a signature event for the WW100 Commemorations in the District. Relevant sites and themes for the living carpets will be selected and Expressions of Interest from artists to create designs for the selected themes will be sent out in November 2013. This will be a major outdoor art installation for the art museum with accompanying texts catalogues and filmed documentation to be streamed online across New Zealand and internationally.

A Whangarei Art Museum Artist Project in collaboration with Whangarei District Council and Whangarei Returned Services Association Trust.

The Whangarei Art Museum is grateful to the New Zealand Lottery World War One Commemorations board for support of this unique project.

Project Rationale:

The Whangarei Art Museum Te Manawa Toi has been involved with the planning committee for World War One Centenary events 2014-2018 since the inaugural meeting at the Auckland War Memorial Museum 21 July 2011 convened by Sir Don McKinnon and the subsequent meeting of museum Directors and professionals at Te Papa Tongarewa on 28 November 2011.

The Whangarei Art Museum is planning several special explorative exhibition programs throughout the WW1 Centenary 2014-18 periods. We plan to launch our commemorative exhibitions programs of art and social history with a public art event in February 2014 consisting of 5 commissioned remembrance ‘living floral carpets’ in key city precincts. This is a community-wide event with activities and programs to be developed in collaboration with Whangarei RSA Trust.

A stand-alone project in association with concurrent art museum exhibitions, this Living Remembrance Floral Carpet project proposal is intended to provide opportunities for community commemoration, education on the significance of World War One to contemporary New Zealand society and insights into how WW1 impacted on the fledgling nation and still reverberates today.

This is a distinctive and unique project, unlike any other proposed in the Northland Te Tai Tokerau Region or nationally and is aligned to other commemorative projects under discussion with the Whangarei District Council and the Whangarei RSA Trust, local schools and other relevant stakeholders in the community including iwi and hapu. These include discussions for the possible relocation of the Cenotaph to Laurie Hall Park.

The art museum has commissioned both indoor and outdoor floral carpets in the past: one a memorial carpet in 2005 and three 1950’s Feltex Carpets recreated by kind permission of Feltex Ltd. from original designs in real flowers and foliage with 1950’s furniture also garnished and decorated. These were hugely successful events staged as part of the Whangarei District Council Endless Summer Festival program in 2005 in the canopied entrance to the new Whangarei Library.

The WW1 Centenary Proposal project, the subject of this NZ Lottery Grants application, has the enthusiastic support and endorsement of the Whangarei RSA Chairman Archie Dixon and Whangarei Mayor HW Morris Cutforth (see letters attached) and the Whangarei Art Museum Trust.

This will be a ‘signature event’ for the District and a drawcard for the commencement of Commemorations for WW1 Centenary in Northland. As a unique and very public spectacle both in the making and installation of the carpets and through to their solemn dedication and blessing this project, quite unlike any other being proposed nationally, will garner significant media coverage. The art museum will film the progressive installation and dedication ceremonies which will be streamed online on the Whangarei Art Museum web-site and on Face book and YouTube as a permanent archive.

Whangarei WW100 - Centenary– a City of Living Remembrance Floral Carpets

Five Northland artists will be invited to create individual thematic designs to be transformed into Living Floral Carpets approx. 2m square (or diameter) in size around the concept of War and Service in WW1.

The selection of local artists will specifically include male and female artists, Maori and Pakeha and each floral carpet with take an interpretive theme / context on the commemorations.

It is significant for instance that New Zealand’s commitment to sending troops to battle in 1914 came only shortly after it attained Dominion status and a significant degree of independence from its Colonial past and the long debate over possible Federation with Australia. Equally significantly, this was the first international war New Zealand entered as a nation where Maori were allowed to enlist exclusively as ‘Maori’. The heightened sense of nationhood these facts engendered accompanied with female emancipation and commitment to the War Effort by the women of New Zealand on the ‘home front’ are all rich contexts to be explored by contemporary artists in the Living Floral Carpet designs.

The art museum has invited the Director of Bloom florists Whangarei Julie-Anne Smith Rylev to project manage the installation and work with the five artist’s to interpret the art concepts into living floral carpets and also manage the volunteer floral artists from the Northland floral art societies, to install the five large living carpets in florist oasis and sand, and to contextualize, decorate and garland the covering marquees.

Each outdoor carpet will have its own protective marquee and interpretive texts and security guards for night protection.

Visitors will be able to watch each of the artworks in progress and their ceremonial dedication which will include the Mayor and Councilors, schools in the District and RSA Members and following at the conclusion of the project week a ceremonial dismantling of the flowers and blessing as they are gently floated out to sea down the Hatea River at the Town Basin. A week of feverish florid creativity commemoration and remembrance is promised.

ENDS

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