You would have to have been living under a rock to have missed the dark news that a fifth of all coral in the world has died in the past three years.
One accomplished Australian artist and biologist is calling on us to consider the underwater world, with her engaging exhibition A Thousand Tides – on now inside an incredible new civic building, Bunjil Place.
‘Surely, when one has a chance to take a really close look at an extravagantly ornate nudibranch in its marine habitat, one feels compelled to learn more about it… and look after its environment?’ contemplates Dr Vera Möller.
Even if you’re stuck behind a desk at your computer, that rationale still rings true; by now you’ve probably looked up nudibranch – in case you haven’t here’s one like a My Little Pony. Maybe you’re even curious as to how these cute slugs are fairing locally, in light of the fact that there is half the amount of coral that was in the oceans 40 years ago. And perhaps, when you’re next at the seaside, you’ll even now seek one out?
With her latest exhibition, A Thousand Tides, the acclaimed artist has brought the brilliance of Western Port Bay’s biosphere to suburban Melbourne. On now at the spectacular Bunjil Place Gallery in Narre Warren, the showcase of sculpture and paintings reflects on these coastal zones and the astonishing, often microscopically small, creatures that exist there. ‘The project was shaped to reflect on some of the scintillating surfaces and structures found in sponge gardens, and sea slugs. I was equally interested in the wonderful expanses of mangrove air roots and sea grasses,’ details the artist, who has created ‘fields of hundreds and hundreds of objects that contemplate those spaces’.
Born in Germany, Vera originally studied biology, microbiology and theology before migrating to Australia in 1986. Setting up home in Melbourne, she studied fine art at VCA and Monash University, and is today represented by fine art gallery Sophie Gannon Gallery. This vast background knowledge has empowered the artist to highlight multiple perspectives as she explores biological phenomena.
As a maker, she has set out to quietly encourage audiences to look more attentively at our natural surroundings. ‘My aim is to potentially excite viewers enough to seek out encounters – go out there on the beach somewhere in the extraordinary environment of Western Port, and look for those fascinating creatures and at underwater spaces themselves,’ she encourages. ‘Take notice of their incredible visual characteristics and observe their stunning biological complexities,’ she adds. Whether this is for the simple pleasure of slug watching (move over Twitching), to gain a little perspective, or be creatively inspired… the benefits are boundless.
After seeing this epic exhibition come together, Vera herself is keen to return to the field. ‘I’m simply looking forward to many more beach walks during the day and at night, and to exciting snorkelling expeditions!’ she tells. Though, this won’t be before the artist and her team deliver a schedule of wonderful talks, workshops, and excursions. Plan your own expedition to The Peninsula (or any other coastal region), with this show as your very first stop!
This exhibition is part of ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019, a socially-engaged festival of climate change related arts and ideas, featuring curated exhibitions and theatre works alongside a series of keynote lectures, events and public forums with local and international guests.