Nicole Charles, Learn to Swim, 2016

SII Nicole Charles.jpg
SII Nicole Charles.jpg

Nicole Charles, Learn to Swim, 2016

230.00

Limited edition digital print on 310gsm Ilford Galerie Smooth Cotton Archival Paper 

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‘Nature does many things only once, only once did she make a Kauri forest, and this was one of the most sublime of all her noble works. By chance the Kauri forests were entrusted to our care, and we have destroyed them most completely, all but this last most pitiful remnant.’
— Professor W.R.McGregor(Story of the Kauri, A.H. Reed.)

The Waipoua Kauri forest sanctuary in Northland is one of these ancient remnants. It evolved in isolation from the rest of the world in a land once dominated by birds, where kauri sheltered all.  Yet centuries of reckless destruction involving burning, logging, spraying, conversion to pine plantations and farmland and the constant threat of introduced and invasive species has whittled the ngahere down to a mere fragment of its former self.  As noble as it is, this taonga is no longer pristine, it is not untouched and is fast approaching a state of cosmic barrenness. Climatic change and the Kauri Dieback disease continue its decline and, in an environment of ever decreasing connectivity to other natural areas, how kauri ecology inter-act and ultimately fare is uncertain. It raises the question, will kauri adapt fast enough and should we be looking to kauri as both a cultural and ecological indicator of what is to come? What then is the reciprocal responsibility of humans towards kauri and the irreplaceable biodiversity they support? Are we even capable of managing such things? How we respond to these issues, how we perceive, engage and negotiate these shared spaces within such rapidly shifting environments will be important factors in providing for future generations. We have become divorced from nature, but is it not too late to cultivate an ecological identity that fosters a sustainable and holistic coexistence with nature? We are locked in an embrace and if we could only recognize that we are but one part within the whole, that nature is not our creation but its survival our concern, then the kauri and its forest culture might yet be restored.

Nicole Charles is a multi-media artist living at the edge of the Waipoua forest. In 2013 she completed a BFA (Hons) at Elam School of Fine Arts. Her practice explores the human condition in relation to the natural world, and seeks to highlight a spiritual and emotional entanglement that flows both ways.