Students explore climate issues through camera lenses

These young Taranaki students have been given cameras to explore climate change and environmental issues for an exhibition that runs from February 8 to March 5 at Lysaght Watt Gallery in HÄwera.

Provided

These young Taranaki students have been given cameras to explore climate change and environmental issues for an exhibition that runs from February 8 to March 5 at Lysaght Watt Gallery in HÄwera.

A group of Taranaki students with an interest in climate change and the environment have become artists by producing powerful photographs for a touring exhibit around Taranaki.

Through Taranaki’s Eye opened at the Lysaght Watt Gallery in Hāwera on Tuesday afternoon.

The exhibition is part of a national, artist-led photography project led by Track Zero, the Taranaki exhibition being a collaboration between the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (Taft), Sustainable Taranaki and Enviroschools.

The 15 students, aged between 10 and 15 and from schools in the region, were able to learn and discuss climate change issues with Earth Systems Scientist Professor Tim Naish and then spent a week with photographer Taranaki Tania Niwa and Carmila Rutherford (Wanaka) learn how to use their cameras and create works for display.

One of the highlights of the week for Niwa was watching the reactions of students when they first saw their work on the big screen, on display, during the workshops, she said.

“It was really scary but empowering, that feeling of what it’s like to display your creation and the vulnerability that will create, but it’s also empowering as a way to tell your story.”

Photographs produced by the students during the week were exhibited at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Center in New Plymouth and were also exhibited at Gallery Pātea.

“The insight of these rangatahi was truly phenomenal, they were all students interested in climate change and climate science,” Niwa said.

Both photographers had their own work in the exhibit, with Niwa featuring the voices of five wahine sharing insight into ancient wisdom on climate change, while Rutherford’s work focused on sustainable agriculture.

Works by Nia Tipene, Kim Kahu and Robin McLaughlin at Whakakitiakitanga, an exhibition at Lysaght Watt Gallery in Hā wera from February 8 to March 5.

Tania Niwa

Works by Nia Tipene, Kim Kahu and Robin McLaughlin at Whakakitiakitanga, an exhibition at Lysaght Watt Gallery in Hā wera from February 8 to March 5.

Meanwhile, in a separate exhibition, Niwa’s own work and that of seven other Maori women artists, titled Whakakitiakitangaaccompanies and supports the work of the students.

It features a range of exquisite te ao from six Kairāranga (weavers), a visionary young printmaker and Niwa’s photographic art of te ao Māori – the Māori universe.

Her works include “nightscapes”, images of the dark sky that tell the stories she missed growing up.

“We didn’t know Matariki and Puanga when we were kids, for me it’s about helping to share those stories through photography.”

  • The exhibitions both run until March 5.

Teresa H. Sadler