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Education team roadshow reveals 'The Unseen'


'The Unseen' installation

The marine environment is facing many unseen issues but there is a huge amount of unseen science happening to help understand how we can resolve these issues.

If you have visited the National Aquarium of New Zealand over the last couple of months, you have probably seen the large rope artwork we have on display. This is 'The Unseen’, by artist Gabby O’Connor. Part of her process is getting others involved to help create the art.

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Banded Godwit - photo credit Adam Clarke

For five weeks during March and April, National Aquarium educator Karlie and I hit the road for 'The Unseen' roadshow. We were discussing with students the unseen science from scientists, Becky Shanahan, (Senior Scientist Marine and Coasts) and Annabel Beattie, (Terrestrial ecologist) both from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Professor John Cockrem (Professor of Comparative Endocrinology, Massey University), behind sea grass investigations, seabird surveys and penguin tracking. I am still amazed that the Banded Godwit flies from Alaska to New Zealand, nine days non-stop, every summer, just to feed up for the breeding season back in Alaska during their summertime!

rsz 1students working on unseen

Students working on The Unseen

Over the five weeks, we visited 20 different schools around Hawke’s Bay, talking with 2100 students about the science. Then we got the students to create the art!

In pairs, armed with pieces of rope and cable ties, students would create pieces related to the marine environment – something they had heard and been inspired by. We saw some incredible imagination... turtles, bird wings, taniwha, ocean movements, eggs in nests, stingrays, jellyfish, octopuses, fish and many, many other creations.

Students working together on their ‘Unseen’ pieces

The Unseen artwork consists of over 15km of rope, thousands of cable ties (all of which will be recycled and turned into other artworks at the conclusion of the journey) and has involved well over 5000 people. It has travelled from Nelson to Wellington, Tauranga and here in Napier. After us, it’s back to a gallery in Wellington. Students loved the idea of their art travelling and going on display!

Hawke’s Bay contribution to the unseen

The issues the environment faces appear overwhelming when we think about it as a whole but we all need to do our bit to help protect the environment that surrounds us all. Just doing one small action is all we have to do. Maybe we just need to take a step back and just appreciate what is around us… take a moment, listen to the environment, see how it makes you feel and then act.

'The Unseen' exhibition will be displayed until 9 June, so make sure you come in to visit and view this artwork.

13 May 2022

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