Water and more specifically the ocean is a source of inspiration for finding new frames of reference to understand our world caught in ecological crisis. Aotearoa New Zealand’s identity is tied up in its place as an ecologically- isolated territory discovered by ocean-borne navigators who looked to the skies and ocean currents to locate themselves. There is a kinesthetic curiosity the artist explores as she floats in the ocean or dives down to capture these fluid moments. Through the use of intimate perspective, she seeks to embody seeing as an experience rather than solely as an observation. In suspending the body in a place of isolation and destabilisation the work offers a sensuous psychologically-compelling encounter to challenge perceptions and frames of reference.
The series Oceanids Rising arose from research into the Taniwha, a Maori supernatural creature, some of whom are protective guardians of their watery habitats. These ‘kaitiaki’ were depicted as reptile-like sea creatures which could change their form to sharks, whales or dolphins. In the Maori tradition, the Taniwha has parallels with the legends of the Greek Oceanids. These were young mythological goddesses responsible for protecting the body of water they inhabited, and the creatures that lived within it. In the face of our ecological crisis impacting the world’s oceans and waterways, I was interested in constructing a contemporary representation of these mythical eco-warriors within the context of their habitats. The images were captured at many locations over the past three years, including Pauanui beach, on the Coromandel Peninsula, the Hikuai River, one of a declining number of rivers in Aotearoa New Zealand that are still swimmable, Waitemata Harbor, Pataua North Beach, and the Pelorus River. There are also works created from images taken from the cliff between Freshwater and Curl Curl Beach in Sydney.
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