A wild collaboration of Tai Tokerau and international artists is breathing life into Whangārei's shopping mall The Strand with cutting-edge plant art.
The project, titled PlantLab, is a pop-up space inviting the public to experience innovative art and watch creative masterminds at work.
PlantLab curator and producer Dr Maggie Buxton says it's a mad installation that is evolving as artists come together in the space to collaborate.
"Instead of going into a finished exhibition, this is art that's in work in progress [stage]."
PlantLab follows in the footsteps of a series of regenerative place-based projects, including StrandLab, FringeLab, and JobLab, which are co-produced by Buxton's social enterprise AwhiWorld.
These events are designed to create awareness of neat things that are happening in the arts and tech world, raise the profile of Northland's innovators, and re-activate spaces in Whangārei that have been unused or unloved for some time.
The PlantLab pop-up evolves around the natural environment and brings together artist-scientists, cultural creatives and technologists who are celebrating all things plant.
Their interactive installations include 3D prints using biodata from proteins, plant memories turned into soap and then into glitch art, and glowing algae swarms printed on fabric.
Buxton explained there would be no programme - instead, visitors get to experience the installation and see different collaborators interact.
"Plants are core to the spirit of place and people – and that is one of the key messages of PlantLab.
"Other messages include letting people know that cool things are happening in Whangārei – it's filled with possibilities."
She said the project also supported skills development for artists in the post-Covid world.
Her hope is that PlantLab will bring some life and foot traffic into Whangārei's CBD.
"We have specifically chosen this space in The Strand mall. The space has been empty for three years, and we have chosen to do it up to support the community."
The installation launched on Thursday, September 22 and runs Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am-3pm, until October 7. For more info and art content visit awhiworld.com/lab/.