Virtual tour of Lianne Edwards "Sentinels & Sea Change"
Lianne Edwards, March 2020
Wayfinding Series - 16 Sentinels
Ancient navigators used environmental clues to navigate their way across vast expanses of ocean; the process was termed ‘Wayfinding’. The stars, wind, currents, wave patterns and presence of seabirds and sea creatures were all ‘signs’ that helped these master mariners navigate. No one ‘sign’ was infallible; you had to use many ‘signs’ to find your way.
In the Wayfinding series I allude to the ancient art of ‘wayfinding’ as a metaphor for a means of finding our way forward through these often predicted, sometimes unexpected, both insidious and rapid changes taking place in the marine environment. Much of how we find our way forward will be based upon the acquisition of knowledge. As Mau Piailug, Micronesian navigator said: “To navigate, you must be brave and you must remember.”
Compasses based upon star and wind position and direction were often used to navigate; these compasses variously had 16 or 32 points or quadrants representing different ‘signs.’ In the Wayfinding series I locate 16 points around the boundaries of the South Pacific including the Tasman and Coral Seas.
The preparation for this work began over two years ago when fresh swordfish bills arrived on my doorstep. The bills, usually discarded, are from a population that ranges across the South Pacific Ocean. Swordfish (Xiphias gladius), some weighing more than 300kg, are caught off Westland, South Island through the quota system and also as by-catch from the tuna industry. The more I read about swordfish, the more I regarded them as a ‘sentinel species’: a species that feeds high in the food chain whose presence and health can indicate the health of the system they live within. The works that developed from these swordfish became my ‘Sentinels’ of the South Pacific Ocean.
All the materials used in the Sentinels have a maritime focus and reference our historical association with the sea. Totara, a preferred wood for making waka, and brass, a traditional maritime material, join the swordfish bills. The markings are variously inked and scribed, akin to traditional scrimshaw a practice developed by sailors on whaling ships. The patterns and points mimic those found on maps and compasses.
The latitude and longitude markings on each of the Sentinels locate points which together loosely delineate the boundaries of the South Pacific Ocean. The original circular concept for this hanging installation was based upon the star compass referencing the Polynesian art of wayfinding. Half of the original sixteen Sentinels are currently on display, the semicircular hanging installation here, varies in that the Sentinels have been reconciled as sculptural in size gradations.
Exhibition curator: Alice Hutchison
Virtual tour of 2020 Miles Art Awards exhibition
The 2020 Miles Art Award Winners:
The Supreme Award: Israel Randell, Wahi Ngaro, 2019
The Mayors' Award: Kevin McCardell, Plight of the Bumblebee, 2020
The Friends of The Tauranga Art Gallery Award: Zig Beatnik, Anarchist, 2018
The People's Gallery Emerging Artists Award: Adrienne Ranson, Cloud, Rock, Mountain No.2, 2019
You can now vote online for your choice in The Bay of Plenty Times People's Choice Award.