51° South

This exhibition is now closed

A group show examining a range of responses from artists with a connection to the remote Auckland Islands.

A group show examining a range of responses from artists with a connection to the remote Auckland Islands.

Lying in the midst of the great Southern Ocean, 465 kilometres south of Bluff and within the 51st southern latitude, are a group of subantarctic islands known as the Auckland Islands. The remoteness and harsh weather conditions of this island group have kept human presence to a minimum and on several islands the habitat remains largely unchanged by people or introduced animals.

The ecological importance of the islands was recognised internationally when they were declared a World Heritage Area in 1998. The Auckland Islands play an important role supporting numerous bird and sea mammal populations, as well as a rich variety of plant life, including some plants that are found only on these islands.

Although it is limited, there is a fascinating history of human involvement with the islands since they were accidentally discovered in 1806. Early visitors included sealing gangs, whalers, and scientific expeditions. Māori and Chatham Island Moriori settled on the islands in 1842. In 1850 an attempt was made to establish the settlement of Hardwicke on the main island. The rugged, inhospitable climate was a misery for the settlers and the town was abandoned within two years. Remarkable tales of shipwrecks, castaways, and sunken treasure are perhaps the most popular aspect of the islands' history and they still capture the imagination of people today.

51º South provides a small sample of work by artists who have visited and responded to the natural and historical aspects of the Auckland Islands.