First Common Ground workshop under way

The artwork the students made.

The artwork the students made.

School children are getting fired up about the importance of water.

Students from Te Ara Whanui TKKP took part in visual artist Gabby O'Connor's first workshop to develop her installation, Drawing Water, for the Common Ground Festival.

Greater Wellington Council river engineer Alistair Alan  spoke to the 80 students, who ranged  up to Year 13, about the history of the Hutt River.

Artist Gabby O'Connor has made artwork inspired by trips to Antarctica but is now working with school children about the ...

Artist Gabby O'Connor has made artwork inspired by trips to Antarctica but is now working with school children about the Hutt River for the Common Ground festival.

He also told them about how the river was being redirected and managed due to increased flood risk.

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O'Connor and the students used rope to create physical flood maps, which will be exhibited along the Hutt Riverbank in Strand Park behind Hutt Valley High during the  February 25 to March 4 festival.

"I think it's a slow-burner where we're having these big conversations and allowing the potential for connecting big ideas between art, science and landscape, and art and climate," she said.

"We're providing a low-pressure environment  where kids can process high-quality information and relate it back to art.

"It's a long term aim that they will take the ideas and discuss them with their families, and it's these conversations that can generate greater interest in the issues further down the line."

After Common Ground, the work will be exhibited in Auckland as part of the Temp Festival.

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O'Connor has recently returned from her second  visit to Antarctica where she was working as a researcher and artist with an oceanographic research group from NIWA.  

There she collected and processed data for the scientists and also made some art.

The work created and collected from her first experience culminated in an exhibition at Pataka Museum and Art where more than 400 students helped create a central artwork.

*Common Ground, which will exhibit five commissioned art projects created by Hutt and Wellington artists that focus on issues of flood protection, climate change and urban design at various Hutt river sites, is funded by Hutt City Council, Creative New Zealand and the Chartwell Foundation. 

 - Stuff


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