Lavinia Ketchel getting up close with artefacts at Cambridge. Image Lynnette Griffiths and Erub Arts

Caught in the Net: connecting ocean conservation with culture

In June, Erub Arts along with collaborating artists Marion Gaemers and Lynnette Griffiths, team members Diann Lui (Arts Manager), Walter Lui-Elder, Richard Kiwat (Board Member), Kieran James (film maker), and volunteers Geoff Hirn and Graham Ward, embarked on an exciting international arts project that connected culture and the environment. The project involved the install, opening and workshops for the exhibition Caught in the Net at JGM Gallery in London.

Caught in the Net was a departure from past practice of creating large colourful marine environments that portray dynamic biodiversity, as shown in Ghost Nets of the Ocean. Instead, the artists confronted the risks and threats the planet is facing due to climate change and ocean pollution. This was challenging work – conceptually, technically and artistically.

“Caught in the Net portrays hauntingly beautiful images of marine life in a state of decay. This immersive diorama-like exhibition tells a story known everywhere – a story about threats facing coastal environments all around the world. In the imagined world of Caught in the Net, a colourful green turtle and flocks of frigate birds survey a stark dying marine environment of bleached coral reefs with skeletal remains of eagle rays, butterfish, shark and turtle. Small spots of life appear as ever present hope in schools of shimmering sardines, colourful starfish and crayfish. The atmosphere is uncomfortable with the tension of life and death.” An extract from the catalogue essay by Dr. Barbara Piscitelli AM.

Erub Arts went on to undertake archival research that could only be conducted in England from the Haddon Collection and London Missionary Society collection. This research will form the foundation of the religious and cultural bodies of work being planned by Erub Arts in conjunction with Gab Titui Cultural Centre and Cairns Art Gallery. Erub Arts has always centered its practice on a strong research base and the opportunity to visit London and Cambridge and to see objects first hand has inspired many ideas and questions. Developing the next body of work back in Erub is an exciting challenge the artists are looking forward to.

Caught in the Net was supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, the Australia Council for the Arts, and the Torres Strait Regional Authority. Sponsors for the project were project Sea Swift Shipping and Sky Trans Airlines.

By Diann Lui, Erub Arts

Main image credit: Lavinia Ketchel getting up close with artefacts at Cambridge. Image Lynnette Griffiths and Erub Arts

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IACA programs and events receive financial assistance from the Queensland Government through the Arts Queensland Backing Indigenous Arts initiative, from the Federal Government’s Ministry for the Arts through the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program and the Indigenous Languages and Arts program and the Australia Council for the Arts. IACA supports the Indigenous Art Code.

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