September 20, 2008

Inlet Exposed, Warts and All

By PAULIN, Alastair

When Nelson sculptor Deborah Walsh was asked to contribute to an exhibition about the Waimea Inlet, she assumed there would be plenty of tranquil scenic works showcasing Mapua's beauty.

However, Walsh wanted to address the "elephant in the room" - the "nasty toxins" in the inlet, which are back in the news with the recent release of the Environment Commissioner's critical report on the Mapua toxic site clean- up.

Walsh's work Three Monkeys is a play on the wilfully ignorant monkeys, with each skull - made out of Sellotape and containing an apple or pear - labelled "Eat No Evil".

She also created a work called Patch using old ribbons that children won at horse-riding competitions, contrasting the pastoral happiness of childhood with "gang problems that are in lots of rural areas, and the legacy of the apple and pear industry".

Tricia Morrison, owner of Mapua's Coolstore Gallery and curator of the show, said she wanted to draw attention to the Waimea Inlet's beauty as well as advocate for its protection.

"It's a really big part of our life out here - there's been lots of farming, fishing, playing, swimming, looking. But the whole chemical thing has been a bit of a joke. No one really knows what's happening in terms of the clean-up."

The show mixes artworks inspired by the inlet with stories about it from local identities. Mike Perry's work, Chemical Kid, recalls growing up playing in the mud, which he later realised was full of chemicals.

r Inlet will show at the Coolstore Gallery until the end of this month.


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