Whanganui's Bushy Park is like an ark, says sculptor Jill Stegmann.

She is one of a group of eight artists exhibiting in Space Gallery's 80 Million Years of Separation exhibition, a celebration of Bushy Park Sanctuary's uniqueness.

The other artists are Katherine Claypole, Deb Frederikse, Sophie Klerk, Lindsay Marsh, Catherine Macdonald, Fiona McGowan and Felicity Priest.

The title of the exhibition is derived from the understanding that New Zealand was separated from the great land mass known as Gondwanaland about 80 million years ago.


Bushy Park, they say, provides an "inland, island of beauty and wonder where indigenous flora and fauna thrive".

Stegmann's works depict her visions of Bushy Park as an ark with jars containing natural dyes made from plants and bark that grow at the sanctuary.

A Rimu branch bears "samples" of fabrics coloured with the dyes contained in plastic bags printed with plant designs.

On the other side of the gallery is Katherine Claypole's hand-stitched By a Thread which features a plaster hand holding vintage mesh fabric with a little bird protected inside.

Fiona McGowan is a potter and painter who has chosen to work her contributions in clay.

While other artists have made special trips to the park, McGowan is a regular visitor as a Bushy Park volunteer.

Her familiarity is evident in her works For the Love of Trees where the patterns of bark and lichen and the diversity of colours are rendered with the crafting and glazing of each piece.

Lindsay Marsh has depicted the vines that grow at Bushy park with her woodcut and collage works.

Marsh said she is delighted with how well the prints have worked on harakeke paper made by Marilyn Vreede.

The exhibition is completed with Felicity Priest's large oil on canvas panelled work Tawa, Deb Frederikse's charcoal on paper series Sky Garden, Sophie Klerk's mixed media, bird-themed Folio works and Catherine Macdonald's Man vs Nature photo series.