One of two funding winners, Denise Batchelor, is a visual artist based in Hokianga.
Image: ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Two artists have been selected for this year’s Wild Creations, a joint DOC and Creative New Zealand initiative supporting artists to engage with nature and conservation.

Date:  19 February 2020

Denise Batchelor and Sarah Hunter have been offered Wild Creations funding and the opportunity to undertake a DOC conservation experience, to complete an artistic project based on the places, people and stories of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright says; “We look forward to seeing how these artists and their residency projects respond to both local environments and local communities, and their proposals develop from those interactions and contribute to the environmental, cultural and social wellbeing of all concerned.”

“Wild Creations opportunities are highly sought after by artists and communities, and the ‘on the ground’ support and knowledge of DOC staff is always vital to the success of the programme.”  

Visual artist Denise Batchelor, based in Hokianga, is planning a project called ‘The Heart of a Forest’ which explores the life force and inherent breath of a kauri forest.

“The central idea or kaupapa of this arts project is to observe moments of wonder, creating work that inspires both local community and visitors alike to essentially embrace the nature of kaitiakitanga,” Denise says.

Multimedia artist, Sarah Hunter, is one of two funding winners 
Credit: David James

Sarah Hunter will create an installation work that responds to Porangahau Estuary in Hawke’s Bay, engaging with the local community and raising awareness of a remote coastal habitat.

Currently based in Wellington, Sarah grew up 15 minutes from the estuary. She says 'Home' is an opportunity to offer a creative perspective to the Porangahau Estuary conservation story, to re-connect with her 'Tūrangawaewae' and give back to Porangahau School and community.

DOC Director-General Lou Sanson says; “I was impressed and inspired by the applications we had this year. It’s exciting to know there are so many people who feel so strongly about nature and have such creative ideas for sharing that passion. Congratulations to those artists who have been selected.

“Both artists selected this year have a strong focus on the relationship between people and nature, including the importance of katiakitanga (guardianship). That feeling of connection with our nature and heritage is a crucial part of making conservation a success. Wild Creations is about inspiring New Zealanders by engaging them with nature. I’m looking forward to seeing how this year’s artists tell these stories.”

The artists will receive a stipend, project material costs and travel costs. They will have 12 months to plan and take up DOC experiences in support of their project. At the end, they are expected to produce new work, based on their experiences and outlined project.

Background information

Denise Batchelor

Denise Batchelor is a visual artist based in Hokianga, in the far north of New Zealand. Working primarily in digital media, both still and moving image, Batchelor’s work reflects personal encounters within nature; quiet moments of reflection within which deeper connections can be experienced. These connections range from subtle nuances to the more distinct, evoking feelings of inclusion or alternately, a sense of separation.

“Contemporary Western culture can create a feeling of separateness in which we often experience nature as somehow outside of ourselves and disconnected from. My work attempts to bridge these seemingly separate worlds, creating a more intimate space in which to connect and engage”.

Capturing moments that simultaneously embrace the familiar, yet reflect the overlooked or unnoticed, the work also explores the relationship between time and place. Responding to site-specific environments, Batchelor creates works of contemplation, offering the viewer access to an interstitial space between movement and stillness.

A recipient of residencies and art awards, Batchelor has exhibited widely in galleries, art centres and festivals in New Zealand and internationally. Her work is held in public and private collections. Batchelor received her Master of Fine Arts (Hons) from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design (Auckland) in 2011.

Sarah Hunter

Sarah is a multi-media artist, filmmaker and storyteller based in Wellington. As a photographer, she has documented creative arts and culture for more than three decades. Most recently she created ‘Common Sense’, a projection and light installation as part of Wellington On A Plate 2019.

A selection of her portrait photographs featured in Suzanne Tamaki’s 'Native Eye' show for the Courtenay Place Park Light Box project, and her work has appeared in shows including Pacific Sisters ‘Fashion Activist’ exhibition, 'Hip Hop Won't Stop' touring show and 'Reggae Explosion' at Te Papa. Hunter was an invited speaker/presenter at '6 x 4 Close and Personal' at Te Papa, as part of Brian Brake Lens on the World.

In 2003 Sarah established Transmit, an ideas and content generator company specialising in video storytelling and content.

Creative highlights include directing and creative producing two ‘WW1 Remembered’ light and sound shows at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, and ‘Luck of The Draw’, a digital project for WW1 Commemorations.


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