A series of nature photos taken by Northlanders during lockdown have been brought to life as part of an exhibition at the Whangārei Art Museum.

Carrie de Hennezel, Whangārei Art Museum curator, said when the country moved into level 4 lockdown and the museum closed, the team had to think about ways to quickly engage the public with art.

Covid 19 coronavirus: Northland arts sector hit hard by fallout of Covid-19
Northland's Hundertwasser art centre one month away from turning colourful
Covid 19 coronavirus: Museum wants to collect Northland's lockdown stories

That's when they thought of The Plant Room, an existing exhibition at the gallery which uses algorithms to turn digital images of nature around Whangārei - like Cafler Park and Laurie Hall Park- into a colourful exhibition experienced as both sound and image.


"The Plant Room exhibition leant itself perfectly for this. It fitted the format, it was something that already existed digitally and basically the artists' kaupapa for The Plant Room is dedicated to supporting the spirit of people and their places.

"What we thought we could do is extend this concept to your individual bubble, people's backyards."

So the museum reached out to Northlanders, inviting them to explore nature within their bubbles, take photos of what they found, and send them in to the gallery.

By the time the country entered alert level 3, there was a range of content - including mushrooms, sticks and dead plants - from Whangārei, Maungatapere, Ruatangata, Ruakākā, Tutukākā and Tomarata.

Subscribe to Premium

The images were then sent to The Plant Room artists Maggie Buxton and Kim Newall who worked their magic on the images and transformed them for the exhibition.

Whangārei Art Museum host visitor Helen Finlayson and museum curator Carrie de Hennezel in The Plant Room. Photo / Supplied
Whangārei Art Museum host visitor Helen Finlayson and museum curator Carrie de Hennezel in The Plant Room. Photo / Supplied

"What was special about this project is that our community was able to participate in the process of making art and also contribute to a finished art work. And during a pretty difficult time, it allowed our community to engage with nature," de Hennezel said.

She said the exhibition was interactive, so was very popular.

"The artwork doesn't exist until you interact with it. It's dormant until someone walks into that space and you trigger a sensor and the plant comes to life."


The exhibition is on display at the Whangārei Art Museum until the end of September.