Protecting Pacific Whales through Art - exhibition opens in Noumea

The "Des baleines et des hommes pour la protection des océans" art exhibition opened this week at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea, New Caledonia.

The exhibition showcases art works by 11 Pacific island artists to commemorate the regional Protect Pacific Whales – Ocean Voyagers Campaign.

"Des baleines et des hommes" is conveying messages through paintings, sculpture, photographs, installations and tapa – providing a reminder of the power of art in influencing a positive change for conservation.

In September last year, the 11 Pacific artists took up residency at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre to work on developing art pieces for the exhibition launched on 2 March.

"Through this project we wanted to support the use of artistic expression to evoke a sense of responsibility in us, the stewards of the planet, to take better care of our oceans and to protect whales from new emerging threats," said Mr Michael Donoghue, the Threatened Migratory and Species Adviser of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

"Because whales are long-lived, they act as sentinels of the oceans, accumulating pollutants in their blubber and being exposed to changes in ocean chemistry, marine debris, and by-catch in fishing operations and increased noise pollution throughout their lives."

Mr Ito Waïa, Ms Christelle Montané, Mr Kapoa Tiaou, Ms Marie-Anne Kapetha, Mr Sacha Terrat, Mr Arnaud Elissalde, Mr Nicolas Molé, and Ms Seiuli Tiaou are artists from New Caledonia that have contributed to this project.

Other Pacific Island artists include Mr John Pule of Niue, Mr George Nuku of New Zealand and Ms Ruha Fifita of Tonga.

"We are extremely grateful to the Tjibaou Centre for hosting this exhibition as their main project for 2017, and also to the organisers and of course the artists themselves. The artwork is amazing, it is at the heart of the understanding that what happens to whales because of changes in our oceans will surely also happen to people, especially Pacific Islanders, in years to come. "

The exhibition will be open through until September this year at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre before it travels to Kone in Province Nord, New Caledonia.

The project is supported by the Government of New Caledonia, the Government of New Zealand and Creative New Zealand, SPREP, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Fonds Pacifique.


Photo: Ms Ruha Fifita sitting in front of her enormous tapa,with another tapa by Ms Christelle Montané on the wall