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Aotearoa forest, flora and whenua enrich Depot Artspace gallery for Matariki 2018

Artwork credit: Celia Walker
Takuranga by Richard Joughin
Two thought-provoking exhibitions honouring the natural environment will be on display at Depot Artspace from 14 to 25 July for the Matariki Festival 2018.


Two thought-provoking exhibitions honouring the natural environment will be on display at Depot Artspace from 14 to 25 July for the Matariki Festival 2018.

Forest has the Blues is a printmaking installation project that draws the unique plant life of Aotearoa into the gallery space to boldly question the limits of plant regrowth and regeneration in a high density urban environment like Auckland.

Artists Celia Walker, Toni Hartill, Elle Anderson, Kheang Ov, Nicola Ov, Ina Arraoui, Esther Hansen and selected students from Pukekohe High School will use multiple printmaking techniques to create a large-scale urban forest inside the Main Gallery.

Native plant species face many threats including the constant intrusion of urban development and land-use change.

Invasive species entangled in the richness of our native forest remnants also proliferate the margins of these native plant pockets, smothering regrowth and regeneration, with plant pathogens having an equally devastating effect.

These changes to native plant growth have a flow-on effect on the wildlife that is likely to inhabit the area, resulting in reduced biodiversity.

Alongside the printmaking installation, a mini-forest of native tree seedlings will be given away to the public to encourage better backyard biodiversity.

For Devonport artist and avid environmentalist Celia Walker, the project began with the idea of connecting an art project to environmental concerns quite directly through the giveaway of native tree seedlings.

“Hopefully people realise that each tree in urban backyards contributes to Auckland's greater urban forest. Our print installation, with its spectacular native plants and overabundant weeds, looks more closely at what we have in our bush remnants and some of the problems they face,” says Walker.

“The project has developed and grown over the last few months through collaboration between the artists involved, and we hope it will make people more aware of the value of the native forest remnants.”

Forest has the Blues is included in the Matariki Festival 2018 programme.

Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster and of the season of its first rising, which signals the beginning of the New Year. When the stars are at their brightest, it is thought that this is the most auspicious time for planting.

In keeping with this theme, the exhibition Whenua: Land curated by Depot Artspace Māori Liaison, Jermaine Reihana, celebrates distinctive perceptions of and relationships to whenua of artists both past and present.

With artworks from artists: Joanne Barrett, Robyn Gibson, Richard Joughin, Sean McDonnell, Celia Walker, Jermaine Reihana, Don Binney and Howie Cooke, the aim of Whenua: Land is to raise awareness of the place of whenua in generating new life and to create a greater appreciation for the privilege of our presence here. 

“Matariki is a time of reflection, a time to consider our relationship with whenua (land) and the privilege we are afforded as a species to be able to inhabit it,” Reihana explains.

“The Whenua exhibition was born out of the range of projects we currently have on the go, including a publication about Devonport’s pre-colonial and buried past. It was a natural progression to create an exhibition that addressed the issues we’ve seen repeatedly arise out of our research and writing.”

Whenua exhibiting artists have been chosen on the basis that their works and/or artistic practice bring our relationship with nature to the forefront and create a dialogue about our presence on this land.

“Whenua is essentially Taonga (a treasure) and should be regarded as such, especially if we are to uphold our role as kaitiaki (guardians) of the natural world,” says Reihana.

Join the artists of Forest has the Blues and Whenua: Land for the opening event on Saturday 14 July, 2:00 – 3:30pm in the Main Gallery.

Forest has the Blues and Whenua: Land will be on display from 14 July – 25 July 2018 in the Main Gallery, 28 Clarence St, Devonport.

The artists of Forest has the Blues would like to acknowledge Auckland Council Creative Communities NZ for funding this exhibition and are also grateful for the donation of trees by Restoring Takarunga Hauraki our local environmental project funded by the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board.

The artists of Whenua: Land would like to acknowledge Auckland Council for funding this exhibition.

Further information: 


Forest has the Blues - SPECIAL EVENTS

Auckland's Urban Forest Talk with Mike Wilcox

Sunday 15 July 3:00 – 4:00pm, FREE

Main Gallery


Printmaking Demonstration

Sunday 22 July 1:00 - 2.30pm, FREE

Main Gallery



The artists are recommending one native tree seedling per household so that they are distributed evenly throughout the community.

So that the seedling installation stays intact for the duration of the show, visitors will be asked to label their chosen plant and to collect them on the second Sunday (22 July) of the exhibition.

The plants chosen for this giveaway have been supplied by Restoring Takuranga Hauraki, and are part of the project to restore the biodiversity of the area.

No particular instructions are needed for the plants, they are all quite tolerant of most conditions, but should be planted fairly quickly so they don't dry out in their pots.


Depot Artspace

Depot Artspace is an open and inclusive creative community in Devonport, Auckland that encourages engagement in all art forms. Depot Artspace offers a variety of facilities, services and events that support the creative community including galleries, a professional development programme, publications and a recording studio.


Restoring Takuranga Hauraki

Restoring Takarunga Hauraki is a project aimed at enhancing the biodiversity of our unique ecological area, including Shoal Bay and Ngataringa Bay and the wider Devonport Peninsula on Auckland's North Shore. We aim to eradicate animal and plant pests to create safe and healthy habitats for migratory and resident shorebirds and a place where native land birds can thrive.

Contact details: 
Anusha Bhana, Media & Promotions Coordinator, (09) 9632331 or

Written by

Depot Artspace

5 Jul 2018