water art politics at Chamber Gallery Rangiora

Picture 10

What is the political role of the artist? What is our function? Why do we do what we do, and what do fellow artists and non-artists look for in our work? It would appear the National Government wants to fast track dams and water irrigation for intensive farming. Artists for save our water is a group of artists who make art to draw attention and initiate dialogue around water issues. Their latest exhibition is very timely as the Government has torpedoed its own flagship water reform group and done away with the role of Environment Canterbury in managing Canterbury water.
The Government legislation on water conservation orders passed under urgency has sent a torpedo into the Government-backed national forum working on water management reform.

The Government’s legislation to replace Environment Canterbury includes provisions that reduce the statutory protection of iconic rivers, opening them up for dams and irrigation use.

The water bodies immediately affected are the Rakaia, Rangitata and Ahuriri Rivers and Lakes Coleridge and Ellesmere, along with the application for protection of the Hurunui River, which was awaiting a hearing in the Environment Court.
“Changing the rules for water conservation orders was not needed to fix any problems at Environment Canterbury. This Bill was used as cover to smuggle in a change in the law equivalent to allowing mining in national parks,” Ecologic executive director Guy Salmon said.

He awa reo : rivertalk

‘We are a group of artists who got together to make an exhibition about the Waimakariri River. Canterbury water belongs to all of us. We love our rivers but their water is being sucked up into irrigators and our rivers are varnishing. This is a sad day for our rivers and us all .We are worried that our rivers are disappearing into central pivot irrigators and that Canterbury’s braided rivers are becoming toxic trickles. The over allocation of our river flows for irrigation results in poor water quality, low oxygen content, high bacterial counts, high turbidity and a substrate masked by mud and silt. Canterbury’s lowland rivers are polluted to the point where they are unsafe to swim in or drink from because of ongoing faecal contamination.This is the first time a private company Central Plains Water has been given the water rights that belong to us all” says artist Sally Hope

Water is a hot topic in Canterbury these days. Water has been called the “new gold” and right now there is a conflict between commercial exploitation of our water resources and the effects on our environment.
This is the second Artists for save our water project. This time at the Chamber Gallery, Rangiora comprising Mark Adams, Nigel Brown, Linda James, Sally Hope, Sam Mahon, Margaret Ryley, Ramonda Te Maiharoa, Irene Schroder, Becky Turrell, Ben Woollcombe and Jane Zusters. Sponsored by The Malvern Hills Protection Society and Alpine Jets in March 2009 these artists journeyed the Waimakariri River seeking to gain understanding of the effects of the proposed Central Plains.Water Irrigation Scheme and inspiration for this exhibition.

At the time the artists made this journey, it was proposed to build a giant earth dam and flood the Waianiwaniwa Valley. On October 30, 2009 Environment Canterbury gave Central Plains Water, a private company, consent to take water from the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers for irrigation on the Central Canterbury Plains. Waianiwaniwa Valley farmers are delighted that their valley will not be flooded but a private company still got the water rights. This eclectic group of artists celebrates the Waimakariri River through their art.

imagesHOMAGE TO DON PEBBLES WHO DIED RECENTLY IN CHRISTCHURCH AT THE AGE OF 88. He was a great artist and a great human being in a world where seldom do the 2 things go together.

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