Coast artists inspired by conservation issues

Kerrie Cleverdon’s triple print, Mangroves 3 depicts creatures that benefit from mangroves.

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An exhibition that is on now at Estuary Arts Centre looks at our local environment from an artistic perspective.

The Overwintering Project is an international initiative that invites print artists from Australia and New Zealand to respond to the unique nature of their local migratory bird habitat and raise awareness of the importance of those places.

Originally the local exhibition was to follow that theme, but its scope was widened by coordinator and printmaker Val Cuthbert.

A total of 13 artists – printmakers, embroiderers, a photographer and two artists who are making an installation – are presenting work about a range of habitats that highlight things such as the importance to the environment of mangroves.

The works take the environmental issues away from the realm of science and into the creative world – some of the works depict birds, while others feature eels, shellfish and even the effect of weeds on native plant growth.

Val takes a keen interest in conservation, and says that it’s important to highlight the value of various habitats, and why we need to actively protect and enhance them.

She points out that sediment entering environments such as Orewa Estuary kills the shellfish and invertebrates that the birds feed on and that mangroves provide shelter for fish and also protection and roosting spots for birds.

“Mangroves in Orewa Estuary have been the subject of controversy and change, so have become another focus for artists, as has the invasive nature of weeds in areas of native forest,” Val says.

The exhibition will be expanded next year, with a wider range of media included as well as contributions from local schools.

The Overwintering Project is on at Estuary Arts Centre in Orewa from September 5-22.

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