Thursday, July 18, 2024

Camellia chandelier honours heroic suffragists

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Accomplished local artist Wendy Hannah has created a new work to be installed at Botany Town Centre. Photo supplied

A large-scale artistic installation that pays tribute to heroines who fought for the right of women in New Zealand to vote is to be publicly displayed at an east Auckland shopping complex.

Accomplished local contemporary artist Wendy Hannah is behind the creation, a camellia chandelier made from 31,872 recycled bottles.

It’s named Liberty – Herekoretanga and described as an awe-inspiring work that “celebrates the achievements of women and embraces the beauty of diversity and the importance of environmental awareness”.

The towering structure is set to go on public display at Botany Town Centre to signify and commemorate 130 years of women’s suffrage.

Hannah says the work serves as a “poignant reminder of the accomplishments and ongoing struggles of women, while also advocating for sustainable practices and environmental consciousness”.

“It stands as a powerful symbol of empowerment, diversity, and unity, inspiring viewers to embrace the past, celebrate the present, and work towards a brighter and more inclusive future.”

Hannah started working on the Camellia Project NZ in 2018.

It’s supported by local schools and community organisations with funding support from Arts Out East, Te Tuhi, and Howick Local Board.

Over the last five years she’s visited schools and community groups to run workshops, make camellia flowers from recycled drink bottles, and talk about the history of women’s rights in New Zealand and the importance of recycling and reducing waste.

In the 1890s white camellias became a symbol of New Zealand women’s suffrage movement.

Suffragists gave the flowers to supportive MPs to wear in Parliament while 31,872 people signed 13 petitions demanding women be given the right to vote.

On September 19, 1893, New Zealand became the world’s first self-governing country to give women the legal right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Hannah’s work features 31,872 illuminated camellia flowers that were made during workshops in communities throughout New Zealand.

Each flower represents one of the signatures on the petitions.

Hannah says the use of recycled bottles in Liberty-Herekoretanga emphasises the significance of sustainability and the need for responsible consumption.

“By repurposing discarded materials, the installation draws attention to the importance of recycling and reducing waste, while also highlighting the potential for beauty and creativity in recycled objects.”

Te Tuhi director Hiraani Himona says the gallery is delighted to be working with Hannah and Botany Town Centre to make the “inspiring artwork” possible.

“It will be exciting to see it on view to the public in Botany Town Centre for the next twelve months.”

Kerrie Hughes, Botany Town Centre’s centre manager, says the shopping complex is a community hub for the diverse east Auckland population, “which makes our support for this project by a locally-based artist with a global outlook a natural fit”.

The production and installation of Liberty – Herekoretanga has been generously supported by Botany Town Centre, Arts Out East, and Te Tuhi.

It’s being publicly unveiled at 10.30am on September 19 at The Pavilion at Botany Town Centre.

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