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Art and conservation join forces to restore Tamatea/Dusky Sound in a nationally toured exhibition featuring some of New Zealand’s most renowned artists.

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Dozens of rarely seen historic conservation maps have been gathered in a new exhibition at Conservation House in Wellington.

The man behind Mapping the Land, DOC GIS Analyst Matt Grose.

Matt Grose

Mapping the Land, which runs until 31 January, acknowledges the past, and celebrates cartography and map making at all scales. 

Today, we’ve got the man behind the exhibition, DOC GIS Analyst Matt Grose, sharing with us…

Maps are evocative creatures. People love the detail; love tracing journeys of days across inches of paper; reliving moments, experiences; retelling stories.

Maps are born of survey and marking, measurement and defining; they are the story of New Zealand; they record history.

Topographical Plan of Waitangi Treaty House Grounds.

Topographical Plan of Waitangi Treaty House Grounds, Northland, 1993

Maps help us work, define extents and plot resources. They are critical in managing our partnerships, giving confidence to communities and illustrating progress.

Maps are politics and poetry, diplomacy and emergency, recreation and comfort.

Crop from a map of Tararua Mountain System, 1936

Tararua Mountain System, 1936

Maps are colourful, delicate, subtle, detailed, precise.

Maps promise truth but often lie – sometimes on purpose.

Maps are a lot of things to a lot of people.

Crop from map of Puketi. Credit: A.N. Sexton.

Puketi Forest, Northland, 1939

In the face of the overwhelming saturation of digital information into our lives, I wanted to just pause for a moment and acknowledge what came before, what drives us now, and what we would do well not to forget. Maps don’t make themselves.

Legend for the Puketi Forest map.

Legend for the Puketi Forest map, created by A.N. Sexton

This exhibition started out with a simple thought, “Why don’t we take some of the maps that DOC has stored away in cabinets, get them out and put them on display?”.

Despite everything that’s occurred between then and now, that is still the essence of this exhibition—just some maps that look nice. Any greater theme is up to you.

It’s only a little exhibition, but I hope you can come along and get a kick out of it.

As well as maps, you’ll find interpretation, navigation and cartographic objects, and the opportunity for you to draw your own map of the world.

Mapping the Land | Free entry | Until 31 January 2014 | Foyer of Conservation House | 16-32 Manners Street | Wellington

In a first for DOC, we are currently holding an exhibition in the foyer of Conservation House: Surplus & Creativity. This is an exhibition of design/art installation, recycle-wear, different ways of using familiar items, and all including a healthy dose of kiwi ingenuity.

Surplus & Creativity. All photos by Sam O'Leary.

Everything in the exhibition has been re-created by University staff, Masters students from the Institute of Design for Industry and Environment at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts, and Industry associates from AFFECT, the Centre for Affective Design Research at Massey University  The thing that sets this exhibition apart from others, is that everything is made from surplus materials – Everything here has effectively been recycled.

There is a range of works on show, from hot-water-bottle/watering cans to a computer/chicken coop, to a beanbag-bench made from a sack and a saw-horse. The students brief was to: Recontextualise surplus or discarded objects and things to produce a new vision of use, understanding or comment.

The exhibition is a snug fit at Conservation House. The building here has many recycled aspects to it, from the black floor tiles on the staircase (recycled tractor tyres), to the green partitions which separate our level 4 conference room and cafe (recycled milk bottles). As Rodney Adank (one of the organisers) put it, “Conservation House is a great place for this exhibition, this building itself has recently been recontextualised with the new and the old, and this is obviously reflected in the works on show here, it seems like corporate design is all about ‘designing landfill’ these days and we want to show, that it doesn’t need to be like that”

The foyer at Conservation House, viewed from the 4th floor landing.

Staff at National Office have been seeing Surplus & Creativity every day at work, and here’s what they and the organisers have had to say about it:

“It’s a wonderful use of public space, and I hope we follow it up with further exhibitions. It would be a real plus if it inspires us to exercise our own creativity on the first, second and third floors!” Al Morrison – Director General, DOC

“Design and the Readymade is a great strategy for engaging new ideas and concepts, because it forces the viewer to re-think what they had previously understood to be an interruption of an object or product. It makes us reconsider our interruptions.” Rodney Adank, Acting Director at AFFECT

“This is brilliant!. It’s a space that is generally empty-ish, and good for DOC to be attracting visitors and lifting staff  in an innovative way yet linked to conservation/sustainability . I assume it is supporting the art community as well. Make it regular!!” – Allan Ross – Manager, Ecosystem and Species Unit, DOC

“Could we put a sandwich board on the pavement advertising this and other exhibits? It seems to me that it would be a wonderful opportunity to increase walk-ins..” Louise Hoather – Social Science Advisor, DOC

Conservation House is located on Manners Street in Wellington, across the road from Subway and the ASB Bank (map below the gallery). Come on in and take a gander if you’re in the locale, it might spark some ideas!