Ecological themes mark joint exhibition

The human impact on the Ross Sea and the survival prospects of the toothfish can be considered, when new works are viewed by Blenheim artist Craig Bluett.

He and partner Wendy Murphy, also a Blenheim artist, have works showing at a Nelson gallery in their first dual exhibition.

Bluett's Antarctic theme is a timely one. It coincides with the 25-member nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources' inability last week to agree on the creation of a marine reserve in the Ross Sea.

The Antarctic environment and its marine life need to be protected, Bluett believes.

He puts a 21st-century spin on his Antarctic monoprints, a series that has been shown nationally and internationally.

Photos of English explorer Ernest Shackleton's time in Antarctica were printed from glass negatives, often with cracks and imperfections. Bluett has mimicked those in his prints to emphasise the fragility of Antarctica.

He also altered the original images. In one, titled Fisherman's Blues, a man standing on an ice ride in a conquering pose in Shackleton's photo has been given a fish to hold by Bluett.

"I've twisted them to my own agenda, to show the fragility of the region."

Murphy shares Bluett's ecological concerns and wishes that all countries in the world could see Antarctica as a place to preserve, rather than economically prosper from.

Her works in Black Illumination have a lunar theme. They were inspired by a solar eclipse she and Bluett saw one morning, while driving down the coast to Kaikoura.

It was still dark when they left Blenheim early one morning, she says. By the time they reached Kaikoura, daylight was exposing the land and seascape

"Then it was dark again!"

The couple were entranced by the unusual light on the beach.

The experience resulted in her series of dry-point engravings, an intaglio print process, involving images made from metal scratchings rubbed with ink then printed at high pressure.

Black Illusions is showing at the Design Room, Nile St West, Nelson, until November 23.

The Marlborough Express