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Artists and scientists unite to ramp up climate response


For Immediate Release – 11 November 2019

Artists and scientists unite to ramp up climate response

Storytelling, not just statistics, is vital to how we connect with people to ignite our cultural response to the climate crisis.

That’s the challenge of What if Climate Change was Purple? a multi-year art and science collaboration that aims to generate new public art works that deeply move people and inspire climate action.

In late November over twenty selected artists and scientists from around New Zealand will come together in Wellington to explore ways of working together with the hope of creating original art works that help ramp up our climate response.
The group is made up of both established and emergent artists and scientists representing diverse cultures and disciplines across New Zealand.
The collaborators were selected following an open call for applications and span choreographers, dancers, composers, musicians, poets and visual artists together with experts in mātauranga Māori and science, climate adaptation and land, ocean and fresh water sciences.
Judges said they were extremely impressed by the large number of high calibre applications and many of the established artists had created outstanding work throughout New Zealand and internationally making selection a tough process.
Delivered by charity Track Zero, the project is supported by both Victoria University of Wellington’s Professor James Renwick, using part of the money he received as recipient of the Prime Minister's Science Communication Prize, and the University itself.
Professor James Renwick, a prolific public speaker on the science behind climate change, believes that telling the climate story in ways that connect with people on an emotional level is vital to helping them feel part of shaping the future.
Professor Renwick said, “I am thrilled to see the “Purple” project come into being. We know that solving complex problems like climate change needs storytelling and people to work together instead of in silos and that’s not always easy. He added, “I congratulate everyone for stepping into this challenge, keeping an open mind and pushing beyond boundaries to engage people and fast track solutions to the climate crisis – together we can make a difference, but we must act now if we are to avert the worst consequences of climate change.”

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Carla van Zon, ONZM, former Artistic Director of both the New Zealand Festival and Auckland Arts Festival and Track Zero Board Member said, “The stories artists tell can provoke discussion and allow us to perceive our world in different ways. What if Climate Change was Purple? is an exciting opportunity to draw on our unique kaupapa in New Zealand, with Maori knowledge, history, a no.8 wire attitude and our highly talented creative sector that is different to everywhere else. She added, “Both artists and scientists share a curiosity for discovery and ways of communicating while art speaks about human values, emotions and thoughts that are deeply held. Bringing artists and scientist together will hopefully contribute to how deeply and fast we act on climate change.”

The list of selected art and science collaborators are here:

About What if Climate Change was Purple?
For information, visit An open call for applications to take part in the project, What if Climate Change was Purple?’ closed in early October 2019. The full list of selected art and science collaborators are here: and listed below:

Artists selected for What if Climate Change was Purple?
Chris Adams, Denise Batchelor, Julia Croft, David Green, Michaela Keeble, Dr Vicki Kerr, David Long, Renee Liang, Gabby O’Connor, Jason O’Hara, Louise Pōtiki Bryant, Tupua Tigafua, The New Zealand Dance Company and The Conch, Toi Aamai, 37 Hz

Scientists selected for What if Climate Change was Purple?
Olivia Adamson, Dr Anne-Gaelle Ausseil, Natalia Bullon, Dr Daniel Collins, Andrew Douglas-Clifford, Dr Rachel Hale, Dr Dan Hikuroa, Dr Mike Joy, Dr Natalie Robinson, Dr Jenny Rock, Dr Craig Stevens, Dr Adele Williamson.

About Track Zero
A new creative enterprise and charity, Track Zero, aims to deliver platforms, working with artists, scientists and other sectors, to inspire transformative climate change action.  Our work covers: supporting artistic expression, including new work, events, forums and festivals; new collaborations between artists and scientists, think tanks, progressive business, government and communities; arts embedded in climate and social research, and; applied research.


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