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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Creative Conservation compiled by Chrissy Wickes and Sonia Frimmel

In Creative Conservation 35 New Zealand artists, who are wild about nature, celebrate our beautiful landscape, flora, and fauna. All are passionate about the need to protect the creatures which inhabit it, so many of which are endangered and heading for extinction. Through their art they are spreading the conservation message.

Some are self-taught, others are fine arts graduates. Many different media have been used including painting, sculpture, ceramics, carving and weaving. Alongside 4-5 reproductions of their art, a brief biography and artist statement, in which they tell their personal stories about how and why they created their artworks, is included.

Most work for organisations like the Department of Conservation, or are volunteers in wildlife sanctuaries, throughout New Zealand. Some have worked in very remote places. Jono More tells how privileged he felt lying in leaf litter at dawn watching a colony of bats swarming their roost tree and hanging on a rope in the forest canopy with a flock of raucous kaka flying overhead. Hannah Edmonds found the first Campbell Island snipe on Campbell Island since rats were removed.

Creative Conservation is a unique book, the only New Zealand conservation-based creative collection of its kind. It should live in every school library. Both Art and classroom teachers would find it a wonderful resource to inspire students to join in the conservation effort and create their own artworks.

Personally, I am looking forward to sharing Creative Conservation with my granddaughters, who love doing art at our house and I think many other parents and grandparents would also enjoy sharing this book with children. It might well whet their appetite for visiting some of our sanctuaries and wild places.

Last week we went hiking at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary in Nelson. There was much excitement as after years of preparation and hard work by volunteers 50 Tieke (Saddlebacks) had been released the previous day and there were great hopes these endangered birds would settle in and survive. While the statistics are horrifying (New Zealand has more extinct and endangered birds than any other country) it is really heart-warming that such endangered species can now be re- introduced in areas which have been given conservation attention. But so much more needs to be done, by us and future generations, to turn this dire situation around.

I spent a happy afternoon browsing through the artworks in Creative Conservation. Of the many realistic artworks, I very much liked Ginney Deavoll’s richly patterned landscapes, Robert Long’s oil painting of two rare Tawaki penguins dwarfed by a majestic ocean, and Jono More’s intricate woodcuts of windswept Ti Kouka (cabbage trees).

But it was the more abstract and symbolic works which most appealed to me such as Bill Devoy’s huia sculpture carved out of black Takaka marble, Sven Grabow’s surrealist Future pest eradication officer drawn with ink on permatrace and the kokako and the saw, a woodcut by Jo Ogier symbolising how forestry destroyed its habitat.

I think the authors, Chrissy Wickes and Sonia Frimmel, have created an inspirational book that will appeal to all who are art lovers and care about our environment.

Reviewer: Lyn Potter

New Holland Publishers. RRP $45


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