Oceanic Feeling – soft sculpture, soft on the planet
Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary has inspired this installation, a hanging soft sculpture, referencing the ocean, with specific focus on Upokohue/Hector dolphins. This diminutive dolphin is unique to New Zealand and is thought to be the world’s rarest oceanic dolphin. Measuring just 1.4 metres long, it is unique to our coastal waters and hovers dangerously on the brink of extinction. Thankfully this sanctuary exists, however it would appear more could be done to help protect this graceful and intelligent mammal.
Drawing my inspiration from the natural world, I prefer to work with non-toxic and biodegradable materials – in this case, merino, silk and alpaca wool. This sculptural work is felted which is an ancient and simple textile technique that has no environmental impact. It only requires heat, water, soap and friction to bind together. The fragile nature of wool itself is symbolic of the fragile existence of the Upokohue.
The work references the easily recognised rounded dorsal fin and black, grey and white markings of the dolphin. Bubbles appear in the seawater alluding to the necessity for them to surface at least every two minutes to breathe, to ensure their survival. The twelve strands of seaweed represent the 12 nautical miles the reserve extends to from the coast line.
The title, Oceanic Feeling, is derived from Romain Roland. He coined the term referring to a sense of oneness with the world. This term for me, encapsulates a philosophy of respecting the planet and being at one with nature. The work is a conscious response to the dilemma of the Peninsula’s coastal waters. Restoring, preserving, and respecting the marine ecology.
Fun Fact: The felted seaweed pieces can substitute real seaweed in the garden.
Wool and silk are non-toxic and biodegradable. Wool can prevent soil erosion, suppress weeds, preserve soil moisture and insulates plants from temperature extremes. Over time, wool fibres fully biodegrade, releasing nutrients which provide an additional boost for growing plants. Fungi and bacteria in the soil produce enzymes, which break down the wool fibres. As wool decomposes it releases essential nutrients back to the soil, like a slow-release fertiliser. These nutrients include nitrogen, sulphur and magnesium, which aid plant growth.