Taranaki’s photography exhibit continues, despite other Covid-related events canceled

Students learned about science, were encouraged to think about climate change and learn photography skills. Photo / Provided

The only surviving event of the RESET arts festival opens this week at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery.

A photography exhibition titled Through The Eye of Taranaki is a collaboration between the Taranaki Arts Festival and Track Zero, a national organization that uses the arts to inspire transformative climate action.

Track Zero founder Sarah Meads said the organization has created platforms to connect with people and empower them. The project was not just about getting students to take cameras, but about teaching them about science and encouraging them to share their views on the subject through photography.

“We brought in climate scientists so they had an understanding of the very latest climate science, before they went to a workshop with photographers to use the camera to tell their story about climate change.

“We hope the project will help spark ideas and inspire stories that people can emotionally relate to, because often climate science data and graphs are quite impersonal.”

The exhibition was a jumping-off point for people to have discussions and become more engaged, especially young people, whose voice Meads said was vital given that they inherit a rapidly changing climate.

“It also allows them to understand that they can be part of something bigger than themselves to bring about change.”

TAFT partnered with Enviroschools to deliver this project with 15 rangatahi from all over maunga who had the exciting opportunity to participate. Participating schools include Pātea and Manaia, Spotswood College, Highlands Intermediate and North Taranaki Home Educators.

The project began with a workshop on climate issues with leading Earth systems scientist Professor Tim Naish, followed by a series of photography workshops with professional photographers Camilla Rutherford and Taranaki-local Tania Niwa, including an excursion to Pou at Te Rere o Kapuni – Dawson Falls.

The exhibit, in Govett Brewster’s Education space, features an image of the 15 students with powerful statements sharing their own views on climate change alongside photos of Camilla and Tania.

TAFT Artistic Director Megan Brown said: “In the midst of Covid cancellations and the impact the pandemic continues to have on our arts industry and live events, it’s so exciting to see this project materialize.

“Not only has this been an amazing way for students from across the region to connect, spark conversations and learn about climate change, but culminating afterwards with the exhibition at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery is a exciting way to introduce the project to the community.”

Lauree Jones, Regional Coordinator of Enviroschools, was thrilled to be part of the project.

“It has been an honor to be able to work with so many enthusiastic and passionate rangatahi from all over Taranaki and to be able to connect them with iwi and professionals. These young artists have truly inspired our team.”

Track Zero works with young people across the country to produce exhibitions in Wānaka, Taranaki, Tairāwhiti and Te Whanganui-a-Tara, which are shown at each region’s arts festival. Through the Eye of Taranaki is supported by Creative New Zealand and the Department of the Environment.

The details
What: Through Taranaki’s Eye Exhibition:
Where: Govett Brewster Art Gallery
When: November 5-14

Tracey L. Sweeney