Narani Henson – Another persons trash is another ones treasure, voice, purpose.

Works by Narani Henson

‘My Plastic Beach’ by Narani Henson (picture)

Narani Henson uses marine plastic or plastic detritus, also known as ‘beach booty’ to draw attention to issues around waste and pollution.

She was born in New Zealand in 1976 where a love for the ocean was instilled in her at an early age. A keen surfer, avid collector and environmental artist she sees herself as a ‘custodian of the sea’. With the help of local marine conservation organisation Positive Change For Marine Life she collects marine plastic and turns it into evocative artworks. (Read more – sourced from here)

I found these thoughts from the artist at common ground, Byron Bay-Australia. You can read more from her here as well. I definitely recommend it!

“Do you know that 2.4 million pounds of plastic is estimated to enter the worlds ocean every hour? Which is 1089 tons of plastic!  When I first learnt of the huge volume of plastic pouring into the Worlds ocean’s I have to admit I became very emotional. Our global environment is facing significant risks from pollution which has been created through over-consumption and thoughtless waste disposal by us.

I am working on the process of recycling marine plastic by transforming it into ‘something else’. Through the presentation of my work I hope to highlight the amount of plastic in our ocean in an attempt to comment on the effects resulting from the by-products of our consumer society, I hope to draw people’s attention to the deeper meaning it conveys. I think like any global issue it can feel over whelming and too big to make a difference. But I made the conscience decision to do my part… think local act global, every little bit counts, just like organisations like “Positive change for marine life”, “My Two hands” and “Take three”, I started to take responsibility for my beach by picking up marine plastic and rubbish”. – Narani Henson

Chris Booth- Sculptor

Rainbow Warrior Memorial, by Chris Booth, Photo from here.

Rainbow Warrior Memorial, 1988-1990, by Chris Booth.
The Rainbow Warrior propellor is in the centre of the sculpture, surrounded by an arch of large basalt boulders recovered from a local beach.
Photo from here.

I keep finding new and inspiring artists, and Chris Booth is no exception. Have a read on his website and a look at his sculptures, and you will soon see it for yourself! The text below was taken from part of what he has written on his website.

“Chris Booth’s empathy for people, his ability to relate to their culture, and his underlying respect for the environment have enabled him to create memorable works that sit respectfully in the landscape’.
‘…… which wait patiently, quietly expecting due reverence from the observer’.

Ken Scarlett OAM, World Sculpture News, 2000.

Chris Booth gives a bit of an explaination to what is behind some of his work:

Once a site is identified and approved for a specific land art work I look closely at, for example, the origins of the land, itʼs flora and fauna, the spirit of the land, the social history and land use from ancient times to the present day. Also, my materials are researched and sourced locally. To me this is holism. By way of explaining this further, sometimes in the past I chose to ʻpoint fingersʼ in my work such as showing my opposition to the testing of nuclear devices in the Pacific Ocean, the destruction of indigenous forests in Northland, NZ or the exposing of injustices such as racism. At first these works had the desired effect of alerting others to the problem or adding to the voice of objectors. But, as I became more known, my work became more ʻcollectableʼ and, instead of achieving my original objective, these works became collectable commodities with a monetary value for investment! In 1986 I made a major shift back to holism (my first explorations into holism were carried out in the early 70ʼs using scale models and drawings). Gateway 1986-1990 and the Rainbow Warrior Memorial 1988-1990 were the first major public art works of mine to use this holistic approach. – Chris Booth (All sourced from

ARTISTS as ACTIVISTS: Fighting for our environment

Sam Mahon - “Escape”

Sam Mahon – “Escape”

This was an exhibition (late 2010) that I stumbled across while surfing the net, and thought was really interesting. It also fits in perfectly with the topic of this blog.

The exhibition consisted of paintings, drawings, photography and sculpture by some of New Zealand’s leading artists, all of whom use their art to express their passion for our environment and sometimes to protest against its desecration.

It included works by Michael Smither, Don Binney, Nick Dryden, Grahame Sydney, Sam Mahon, Ian Hamlin, Dean Buchanan, Jane Zusters and members of the Academy. With poems by Brian Turner.

“As far as I know, this is the first time the work of so many of New Zealand’s leading artists has been brought together around the theme of environmental activism, protest and political ideas.” -curator Ian Hamlin

The idea of artist as protester is nothing new and the artist’s readiness to communicate the unspoken, to think beyond his or her own experience, to attempt to push the audience out of its comfort zone, and speak for those who do not dare, has created some of the most powerful artworks in the world. Here in New Zealand, artists are seldom far away from controversial issues and in recent times, the environment has been a particular driver for protest.

(read more here)

Bill Hammond

Bill Hammond is one of my personal favourite New Zealand artists.

And continuing to a simliar thread as the last post, some of Hammonds work also comments on human interaction with the birds & environment of this land.

One of the common themes in his paintings are the half animal/human creatures with avian heads and human limbs. They have quite an Egyptian look to them.

One website biography on Hammond said this:

‘Hammond’s work tackles social and environmental issues, conveying messages about humanity and its status as an endangered species.’ (source: Biography)

Endangerment: he looked back into New Zealand’s environmental history for his subject matter, drawing inspiration from the studies of Sir Walter Buller. The Buller paintings show us some of the ways in which birds have been forced to relate to us.

Birdlife: These works came about after Hammond returned from a trip to the remote Auckland Islands, where there are no people and birds still rule. (source: wikipedia)

(Photo: )

Taranaki artists take a stand on fracking


Artist, Graham Kirk. Photo by Cameron Burnell

Organised by coastal artist Graham Kirk, Fracked (end of Sept 2012) exhibited the work of 22 Taranaki artists expressing their views on the controversial topic.

Some of the big name artists to feature in the exhibition are Dale Copeland, Roger Morris, Mikaere Gardiner, Paul Hutchinson and Alby Carter.

Mr Kirk said a lot of the artists instinctively felt fracking was wrong, and learning more about the process had cemented the view that it was not a move in the right direction.

Read more here.


Learning more about oil through art

The Slick exhibition was set up as a project between Nelson artists and school children aimed at showing how dependent we are on oil based products in everyday life, and bringing awareness to the hazards of oil drilling in New Zealand waters.

One of the artworks created by the pupils, that they call the ‘Oillution Curtain’ was made out of recycled ice-cream containers, and was painted black merging into blue and white representing at-risk oceans.

Pupil Zoe Fyfe, 11, said the work showed oil invading over the water and killing everything that was healthy (reference for this quote from Nelson Mail/Stuff)

See more information behind this exhibition here. And read more about the students learning and artistic experience here, along with seeing a picture of their artwork.

From the awareness of how dependent we are on this substance a lot know as ‘black gold’ we go to one of the destructive aspects of oil, showing the effects of oil spills in our oceans.

On 5th October 2011 the Rena disaster happened in New Zealand waters, just off the coast of Tauranga. The boat ran aground resulting in 350 tonnes of oil to spill from the wreckage. Thousands of birds were found coated in thick, black, sticky oil  and more than 2000 birds died in this tragedy. The ecosystems and food sources of these birds were also contaminated.

Along with it being an environmental disaster for this country a lot of money has had to be spent on the Rena clean up. Maritime New Zealand recently calculated that $27.7 million has been spent so far.

The birds that survived spent time in a Wildlife Recovery Centre being nursed back to health. One creative way that people helped to make a difference for the little blue penguins caught in this oil spill was to knit little jumpers for them. These helped to protect them and prevented them from preening their feathers and ingesting the toxic oil. (Penguin image right)

Some of the most memorable images emerged from this disaster. I remember seeing huge posters plastered up around the centre of Wellington with the haunting black oil prints of the small birds bodies pressed onto a stark white background. These images have stayed with me months down the track. (Above image by Nigel Marple-Greenpeace.)

And so did this short Greenpeace video:

Read more about the oil bird prints here.

See more of the pictures from the exhibition. (click on the exhibition tab more pictures).

Further afield some of Daniel Beltra’s environmental photographs of a Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of Florida 2010 are featured in the ‘Looking back at Earth’ exhibition at the Hood Museum of Art in the United States of America.

“Beltra’s simultaneously vibrant and unsettling documentation of the BP oil spill characterizes the 23-piece exhibit, which combines aesthetic beauty with underlying environmental significance.” Reference from the article ‘Hood Museum exhibits Daniel Beltra’s environmental photography’ read more here.

The images showing the oil spill from an arial view are quite beautiful in a way (the colours and patterns in the photos, not the oil spill itself). From a distance, at a birds eye view they also show us the sheer magnitude of events like this. They are sobering images.

Check out more of Daniel Beltra’s amazing photos and learn more about him on his website.

Current issues addressed in sculpture trail

1344 Red Kiwis- By Donna Sarten (photo sourced from The Epoch Times)


Sculptural works at Te Atatu Peninsula by some of New Zealand’s top artists illustrate current environmental, political and social issues that relate specifically to New Zealand. They reflect the ecology of the area and confront issues such as child abuse and the near extinction of native animals and birds (to name a few.)

Read more about the sculpture trail here

View the official website and see more pictures here