Art meets ocean at National Aquarium of New Zealand 



The ocean was the muse and inspiration for a month-long art exhibition held in October 2022 at the National Aquarium of New Zealand.  

‘Ocean and I’ featured works by more than thirty New Zealand artists, many of whom are local to Hawke’s Bay, home to the National Aquarium. For the show, the first of its kind at the National Aquarium, each artist has contributed a specific piece that expresses their connection and personal relationship with the ocean.  This was the core focus of the exhibition, with the hope that by sharing this personal connection and vulnerability through carefully crafted interpretation, visitors would reflect on their own connection to the sea.

“We are all inextricably connected to the ocean whether we realise it or not. This concept is core to the idea behind ‘Ocean and I’,” says Rachel. “Our ocean is vastly unexplored and rich in diversity of living things and resources that we as humans rely on for our daily lives.”

“As visitors move through the exhibition, there will be various opportunities to pause and reflect on their own personal connections, memories and experiences in relation to our all-important moana (ocean).”

The exhibition was staged throughout the facility and featured art in a range of mediums, from photography, paintings and sculptures from artists David Trubridge, Susan Mabin, Glen Colchin and Lisa Feyen. It also showcased the work of three of the National Aquarium staff, talented artists in their own right. Some of the pieces on display were for sale, will all proceeds going straight to the artists.

The exhibition ended with the chance for visitors to ‘connect the dots’ and contribute to a collective art piece that grew as more visitors added to it.  “Let’s just say we had to keep an eye on some of the ‘contributions’, but on the whole people used this as an opportunity to share their love for the ocean and also their whānau (family)”, Rachel bemusedly shared.

The exhibition was also an opportunity to host late-night events including a family-focused evening and one specifically for adults. There’s also a holiday programme running for the duration of the October school break.

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