Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Estuary Art & Ecology Prize 2019 - my entry at last!

The Estuary Art & Ecology Prize, 2019

Uxbridge Arts Centre, 
Howick, Auckland, NZ

Exhibition of Finalists
13 July to 1 September 2019

Awards Ceremony
Saturday 13 July 2019, 2:30PM

I am very pleased that my 
 work has been selected for this year's award.

The brief:

The only contemporary art prize in Aotearoa New Zealand with ecology at its core. Artists are invited to research and respond to the Tāmaki Estuary, to underscore the ecological value of this vital waterway and encourage action against its pollution.

With a total prize pool of $8,300 the winning artworks will be intelligent and innovative responses to ecology in the field of contemporary art.

 Planning (well) ahead

The Tamaki Estuary is a major geographical feature and an important waterway in my home "town" of Auckland. Passing through many suburbs and almost severing the Auckland Isthmus to the west it is nigh on impossible not to have had some contact with the estuary while living in Auckland for most of my life. From the lush wildlife reserve at Tahuna Torea to the sludgy mud of Curlew Bay that is crossed by the Southern Motorway there are a huge range of habitats and environments, all of them vulnerable to pollution and damage.

The state of our waterways is a hugely topical subject, and becoming evermore so, so I have been very inspired to add my voice to helping to draw attention to this taonga (treasure) on our doorstep. It has therefore been a long standing intention of mine to enter this art award and finally I felt I was ready to give it a go with something that would hopefully measure up to the high bar set by previous entrants. I had loose ideas percolating for some time ( a good couple of years!) but I always left it too late to begin work in time for the next deadline. THIS time, however, I made the decision, probably a year ago, that I would enter this year's exhibition so actually scheduled in time to work towards it.

Knowing that my idea was to construct a multi-layered, multi-media work that was to be larger than the average artists book I knew I needed plenty of time to make, test and construct  many components all the while not having a clear picture in my head quite WHAT I was creating, just what sort of EXPERIENCE I hoped it would invite. (The size limit was that it could be no longer than 2 m in any dimension so... it is approximately 1.9m long).

"Search & Rescue" (detail) by Toni Hartill

"Search & Rescue" (detail) by Toni Hartill

 Initial idea

My original idea for an artwork in an artist's book format was for it to be an "angry timeline" referencing the length of time that the awards have been running, all the while the Tamaki Estuary has only become increasingly polluted. The book was going to tumble down the wall and as it reached the floor it would become all the more deconstructed and degraded.

I very quickly discovered, however, that I'm not very committed to making angry art. It doesn't inspire me to create when I'm angry PLUS I think it is much easier to inspire people to take action if they are engaged and encouraged to participate through a more positive, hopeful approach rather than be alienated by anger. Besides there is so much negativity out there and I am sure it doesn't help with our mental health statistics at ALL. Oh and one other reason, this work was going to take me quite some time to create and its very hard, and very undesirable for me to remain angry for a length of time, or to dredge up the anger each time, I think...

So, therefore, my "angry timeline" very quickly morphed instead into an expression of hope and an invitation to engage.

"Search and Rescue"


Artist's book "Search & Rescue" by Toni Hartill




Artist's Statement:

What began as an intention to create an “angry timeline”, referencing the continued degradation of the estuary despite the years that the award has been running, has morphed into an expression of hope and an invitation for engagement and discovery.

Through multi-layered, tactile details that speak of the Tamaki Estuary, I was drawn to create an experience that would impel people to be engaged with the artwork, to entice them to want to explore and discover the plethora of treasures hidden within, as they might if they were to interact more intently with the estuary.

Viewers are invited to search amongst the pages of this book and are encouraged to think about their own connections and engagement with the estuary. By looking more closely and taking care to treat it carefully, they might, in even a tiny way, begin to consider how they too can play a part in the future of the estuary’s wellbeing and of all its fragile components.









 Stay tuned for a follow-up post 
where I will share images of more details 
and of the work in progress.


"Search & Rescue" - work in progress, by Toni Hartill


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The exhibition opening and awards ceremony is this 
Saturday 13th July at 2.30pm.


Thanks for visiting!



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