Blueness is explored through wide-ranging contemplations on the issue of our ocean legacy in a new John Reynolds exhibition that opens tonight at the Tauranga Art Gallery.
Auckland artist Reynolds campaigns for the blue beyond, from Beyond the Horizon to Blue Despair and Peak Blue Outrage in Blutopia; Manifesto, which parades an unruly array of public protest placards.
Developed especially for the atrium space of the Tauranga Art Gallery, this installation by the renowned New Zealand artist is a comment on all things 'blue'.
With a tableau of street protest placards with slogans, word plays and drawings, this rowdy installation invites viewers to think about the qualities and associations they often take for granted. Reynolds points out how timely the recent announcement of the Government's declaration of New Zealand's Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary was.
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"This is a hugely significant development for us New Zealanders, and foregrounds our vital role in the fight for real protection of globally diminishing pristine environments," he says.
Reynolds was a participant in an expedition of New Zealand and Australian artists to the Kermedec region. The trip inspired many of the artists to make new work that referenced the areas they visited and, in particular, the plight of our oceans and the human impact on pristine marine areas.
The Blutopia; Manifesto show consists of a wordy, yet strongly visual, presentation of thoughts around the issue of the challenges we all face regarding the protection and wellbeing of the ocean around New Zealand, and beyond.
The installation makes a simple yet dramatic appeal for a public sense of ownership of the broader environmental commitments we need to make to maintain our threatened ocean's fierce beauty and remarkable biodiversity.
"The protest placards poised around the gallery walls have the intention of conveying an urgency in communicating the real threat our ocean environments face, and the reality that globally time is running out," Reynolds says.
The artist may make an appearance in his ghillie suit - his transformation mode.
"While simultaneously masking my identity, it maximises my visibility. It dramatises my individuality while denying my recognisability. A sort of conundrum attire, that turns the artist into a green man and a spectacular nobody," he says.
Blutopia; Manifesto, supported by the Sheila Morgan Charitable Trust and Inhouse Design, can be seen at the Tauranga Art Gallery until February 14. The show is accompanied by a free 'manifesto'.