As the world focuses on climate concerns, the creative result of a four-year collaboration between artists and scientists is presented in a new exhibition, centred on the small but globally significant environment of White Bluff on the Coffs Coast.
The White Bluff Project is now open to the world with a new 3D Virtual Tour of the exhibition, currently on show at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery. Also giving a voice to the unique ecosystem is a soundscape event on November 26, highlighting the sounds and stories of White Bluff At Night.
From paintings and ceramics, to poetry and film, the exhibition showcases 15 local artists and their complex responses to White Bluff, including the impacts of climate and urbanisation.
During the project, the artists gained deep insights by working beside land and marine scientists, an historian and traditional Gumbaynggirr knowledge holders. Explorations of the changing coastline provided fresh inspiration through field research and experimentation.
A key influence has been renowned ecologist, Mark Graham, who has brought the natural diversity of White Bluff to life, revealing ecosystems going back tens of millions of years.
“My role has been to interpret the ecological values of White Bluff, where ancient rainforests meet our most southern coral reefs, and how globally significant the biodiversity is,” says Mark.
“It’s some of our country’s most diverse land and sea and is an incredibly stimulating place from which to develop creative expression.”
Inspired by Mark’s description of lava eruptions, painter Ray Rixon created Rupture 2020, representing the area’s earliest geological formation and the fragility the coastline faces today. Some surprising discoveries during the project include a remnant stand of rainforest hoop pines and a rare microscopic phytoplankton in surrounding rockpools.
“To be on the land, in the lab and on the ocean with the artists was amazing and we now see those conversations and creative process expressed through different artistic media,” adds Mark.
White Bluff At Night will see Mark in the gallery narrating an evening soundscape, revealing fauna and flora with biologist Greg Elks, while the audience uncovers the artists’ impressions by torch light. Mark hopes the public will see why local places like White Bluff are worth looking after.
The project was realised with funding from Coffs Harbour City Council’s Arts and Cultural Development Grants, supporting workshops and field trips to inform the final works.
“As a Regional Gallery we love to support local artists and cultural development is at the core of what we are passionate about. Underlying this exhibition is a project that has strengthened connections with our creative community, while illuminating the significance of this unique part of the world,” said Gallery Coordinator, Lisa Knowlson.
Take the 3D Tour of the exhibition and book into White Bluff At Night on November 26 at: www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/gallery
The White Bluff Project is open at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery until 15 January 2022.
Mark Graham, ecologist.
Martin Van Veluwen recording sounds at night, White Bluff
The White Bluff Exhibition