A Journey Beneath the Surface Whitecliffe MFA Grad Show December 2021
Installation shot, Whitecliffe MFA Grad Show, December 2021
Studies, Installation shot, watercolour paint and silt on 300gm watercolour paper
A Journey Beneath the Surface
Below the heavy tread of the human footprint, a pervasive imprint trickles down through layers of the earth: soil, clay, tuff, scoria, and basalt lava flows. It tracks along the underground valleys and stream beds of the sedimentary topography predating volcanic activity. Time plus water plus whatever was in the way, encountering and gathering, accumulating and layering through deep time.
We shape the world in ways visible and invisible. Tracing a river I cannot see, from the volcanic cones of Maungakiekie to Captain Springs and along Miami Stream to where water meets the sea, I imagine the path water flows through the aquifers. What is carried along with it, and where does it go? Inflow and infiltration, the plume of contaminants travel south and west, casting a long shadow down into and across the substrate. Considering the impact on the aquifer and the life forms native to that environment, I imagine that trickle-down path. We don’t see into the ground; the scale of the problem sits deeper.
In his 2006 publication Theatre Country: Essays on Landscape and Whenua, ecologist and environmental historian Geoff Park speaks of “places we have ‘settled’” that “are capable of unsettling us, where we know the extent of our wounding of them.” Following this concept of “wounding,” I’m researching and responding to toxic contamination in the environment, focusing on several sites relevant to my settler heritage. Various geographic points of intersection relate to my ancestral lineage, dating back to the 1850s. Above and below the surface of the land, there is a woundedness. As we know more about the impact of environmental contamination on gene expression, the implications on health become clearer. In the waterways, the aquifers, and the sea, as well as in the bird, insect, plant, and animal life, there exists a genetic legacy carrying the effects of environmental contamination on altered genetic code and epigenetic expression.
1. Maungakiekie, Captain Springs, 8th of October, 2.25 pm. The workers on the factory floor jumped in the asbestos bins. It flew in clouds. Watercolour paint, sediment paint, graphite, and watercolour pencil on watercolour paper, 300 gm, varying sizes.
Detail, Maungakiekie, Captain Springs, 8th of October, 2.25 pm. The workers on the factory floor jumped in the asbestos bins. It flew in clouds. Watercolour paint, sediment paint, graphite, and watercolour pencil on watercolour paper, 300 gm, 1500 x 10,000mm
A Journey Beneath the Surface, Catalogue
Geoff Park, Theatre Country: Essays on landscape & Whenua (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2006), 157