To watch the water

 Image: Megan Hopkins

Image: Megan Hopkins

To Watch the Water is a collaborative exhibition of photographic works by Megan Hopkins and Ella Hickford, fourth year photography students from the Ilam School of Fine Arts. The exhibition explores the social and psychological connection people have with two different bodies of water, the Waimakariri River and Lake Alexandrina in the Mackenzie country. In their work, Megan and Ella have concentrated their efforts on the banks of these waterways, using photography as a means to subtly unpick ideas around environmentalism, seasonal shift, and the marks of human behaviour.

The complexity of this exhibition lies in how these two bodies of water differ, particularly in the way people interact with and value them, and how this brings about environmental challenges specific–but not necessarily unique–to each area. The images that make up the show have been selected from larger bodies of work-in-progress, and each artist has chosen to emphasise a specific thread within their work that plays off the other.

Megan has been visiting her families bach at Lake Alexandrina, Mackenzie Country since she was a child and feels a strong sense of belonging to the area. Her work is focused on traces of people in relation to geographic forms, and her work within the exhibition is a reflection on her own intimate knowledge and memories of place. In doing this, Megan’s intention is that the work serve as a reminder of the important role nature plays, not just as backdrop to experience, but as a meditation on nostalgia, memory and family history.

In contrast, Ella moved to Christchurch from the West Coast in 2014, and her recent practice has been an in depth exploration of the Waimakariri, a body of water of cultural, economic, and geographical significance to Canterbury. Depicting areas adjacent to the river that are considered neither destination or of any specific significance, she is drawn to documenting subtle signs that indicate human presence and intervention. Her ambition is to make images that subtly speak about New Zealand’s relationship with and treatment of waterways–both past and present–contributing to a heightened awareness of climate change and the social-cultural, ecological and economic consequences of inaction.

Text by Megan Hopkins and Ella Hickford.

 Image: Ella Hickford

Image: Ella Hickford