Skip to the content

Punk rock environmentalism supports Trees That Count

Beautiful images and scientific information may not seem radical, but punk rock environmentalism may best describe the latest work by renowned illustrator Erin Forsyth.

Her exhibition opens on the first anniversary of New Zealand Government ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change and features in the programmes of Artweek Auckland and Conservation week. This perfectly mirrors the impetus for this exhibition - pairing art and conservation in an exploration of the link between cultural and biological diversity (or ‘biodiversity’).

The exhibition serves an introduction to an ongoing project by the artist incorporating portraiture of endemic flora and fauna species (plants and animals) with crucial information in accessible form. Each work has been carefully researched and meticulously prepared in gouache, ink, graphite and acrylic. It is the artist’s intention to illustrate not only key characteristics of species, but also the ecological relationships that sustain them and which, in turn, they sustain. This process demands scientific and cultural inquiry into the endemic species by the artist and audience alike, challenging the mainstream perception of the natural environment as resource or emblem. Although this subversive action differentiates Erin’s work from local contemporaries, it also contributes to a dynamic movement happening locally and internationally in which many artists are choosing threatened flora and fauna as subject matter to draw attention to their plight and our responsibility as kaitiakitanga to ensure their survival.

A wider project launches online at during Conservation Week, Wednesday, October 18 at 5pm, supporting this conservation conversation with a series of artist prints and videos. The first webisode, filmed during her residency with Studio One Toi Tū earlier this year, focuses on native bats known or pekapeka and features interviews with ‘batman’ Ben Paris of the Auckland Council biodiversity team and keeper Debra Searchfield at the Auckland Zoo. The interview with Debra features the last footage captured of a pair of lesser short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) housed at the zoo.

For the first edition prints available online, Erin has teamed up with Trees That Count, by pledging to fund the planting of one tree for every print sold.

Exhibition details

Whitespace Gallery,

12 Crummer Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland

Exhibition dates: Wednesday, October 4 – Sunday October 15

Artweek Auckland: Saturday, October 7 – Sunday October 15

Conservation Week: Saturday, October 14 – Sunday October 22

First anniversary of New Zealand ratifying the Paris Agreement: October 4

Launch of artist prints and video series: Wednesday, October 18