Strata – text

*Big thank you to Anita Frost and Whau The People for the imagery!

Many would say that Avondale is a very small but very spirited suburb in Auckland. I am a photographer, not quite local but became very interested in the area. I got together with the awesome Eco-Warriors (Rm 18) to produce a piece about their home place or a place that has become very significant in their lives.

We collaborated to create a 3D model of Avondale. With much commotion often happening above ground, in this project we wanted to draw attention to what lies below it. Our aim was to fill an empty tank with as much materials, information, and stories about this special place as we possibly could.

We began by constructing a giant map to reference home. With the multi-media room as our base, we ventured out and collected materials found in particular locations around Avondale by walking and exploring together. This map was a place where we could record all of the interesting things that we collected on our different adventures. This was great! We covered a lot of ground in the school grounds and also in the estuary near Tony Segedin reserve. Some of the students also brought some treasures that they found in their back yards. The map came together beautifully with lots of small, detailed drawings so that we could remember which item came from exactly which location we went to. I love that the kids added all of this valuable information to our map to share with everybody that we know.

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After we had collected enough material to build with we began putting together our 3D Strata sculpture that mimics the earth below our feet. This was a very messy process but we all got a chance to carefully lay down each layer from the bottom of the tank. The large rocks, rougher soil, as well as the coal that we found at the school was placed in the bottom half of the tank as these solid materials naturally belong further down due to compression. The rocks and mud help to keep the water in place so this was near the middle and the coal formed deep down in the earth many years ago in the Carboniferous period so we put this very close to the bottom. Things like acorns leaves, mangroves, concrete and mud were placed more towards the top. This formed several colourful and textural layers that helped us to understand and share information about this special place.

Last was the fun part, pouring over the sticky, gooey gel to resembles the Whau river that runs beside Avondale, providing us with beautiful wildlife and culture on the surface. This gel turned out to be the perfect material as it was shiny and clear like water, even mixing with some of the mud that we had placed directly underneath the water. This made the sculpture feel a little bit more swampy like the riverside is.

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We made these cross sections of the earth visible through what we learned and our imaginations, helping us to connect the pieces. We made this as a collective interpretation of this place and as a way to show what is important to us.

Strata aims to present a world created to reveal what usually goes unnoticed, adding detail to Avondale’s place on the map. The Whau Festival 15th-18th Oct 2015) Will be hosting a public installation of this piece. We would like to invite everyone to come along and experience the world that we have created together!

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