''We need your water'' is the simple request behind the preparation of a unique art exhibition that will fuse stories from people's everyday lives with science and the environment.

Tauranga residents have started bringing bottles of water to Jeanette Scharing, a widely-travelled Swedish-born artist who has built up a deep knowledge of what makes the environment tick.

The first influx of water arrived at the Tauranga Art Gallery yesterday - providing the raw ingredients and stories for what promises to be a dazzling art installation suspended from the ceiling of the gallery's foyer.

Scharing has called the exhibition ''Whose Water Are You'' to signify the diverse water sources which yesterday included a bottle from Welcome Bay's Kaiate Falls. The contributor told how the falls were unswimmable because of pollution.


''We need a lot of water and I am interested in the stories,'' she said.

Utilising knowledge she has developed over many years as a textile artist, Scharing will use a simple biochemical reaction between a plant material and the water samples to show how diverse the make-up of water could be.

The variations in colour and colour changes taking place in the hundreds of water-filled suspended glass containers was what will comprise the panorama.

''It will be water from inside out and outside in - water is living - it is our most primary thing.''

As if to underline the elemental nature of water, she recalled how the water that surrounded our brains was nearly the same content as water in the ocean.

''I do a lot of work abroad and I have seen so much pollution. Clean water and the right to clean water is essential to every creature on the planet.''

Scharing wants people to bring in their water and tell their stories, even extending to the puddles that children splashed in, water from a washing machine, or nearly anything.

All they had to do was put samples in 500ml or one-litre recyclable watertight containers.

People were also invited to provide a typewritten story or memory of up to 300 words about water and what it meant to them.

Her own bottle comprised water awash with sediment left over from soaking a new item of clothing for a few days - highlighting what was on new garments that we wore close to our skin.

But she does not want serious messages to overwhelm what she was trying to achieve as an artist.

''For me, it is a multi-layered spiritual thing ... I do my research and I look at things. People ask me, is it political. I say, of course it is, but it is art.''

She summed up her thoughts as: ''Water is the life and blood of our earth. Water flows through you and me, water flows through soil and trees and rocks, through the bodies of every living creature and through its own ever-changing life. Water is fragile and complicated, expensive and threatened. Water is living.''

Scharing's exhibition runs from April 14 to July 15.

When to bring your water samples to Tauranga Art Gallery
- Saturday, 10am to 2pm
- Sunday, 10am to 2pm
- Tuesday, 10am to 2pm