Common Ground 2017: Groundwater

We share the waterways that run beneath our feet: water is vital to our sense of common ground. Produced by Letting Space in partnership with Hutt City Council over a week in summer Common Ground Festival in 2017 will celebrate through art and community projects our relationship with the Hutt River Te Awakairangi, its streams, springs and the aquifer beneath.

The Hutt provides water to the entire Wellington region. Meanwhile, New Zealand and the globe face significant threats in terms of water quality, sea level rise, and public access and ownership of water. The Hutt’s waterways and underground aquifer are key assets. With flood protection measures, a move to re-orientate the city towards the river, and increasing public engagement in river health and access to the aquifer, water presents the district with its most significant public challenges, and opportunities.

A festival for visitors and locals alike, Common Ground will make visible the many different facets of people’s vital relationship with water; its connection to our sense of place, and our health and wellbeing. From Taita to Waiwhetu, Korokoro Stream Petone to Dowse Square and the Hutt riverbanks, Common Ground projects will take place in significant sites across the city, with a central hub for public programmes, art and community projects in the Lower Hutt CBD.

There are five projects commissioned from leading Wellington and Hutt based artists with the assistance of Creative New Zealand and Hutt City Council. The artists are Johanna Mechen with Angela Kilford and Elijiah Winter, Julian Priest, Murray Hewitt, Gabby O’Connor and together Kedron Parker, Paula Warren, Stu Farrant and Bruce McNaught. The projects are being developed in collaboration with communities and organisations across Hutt city. They bore down to key issues about water and celebrate our relationship to the resource. The projects culminates in a week of activity across the city, supported by public programmes that bring alive the Lower Hutt city centre.

First staged in 2015 Common Ground is a significant new biennial New Zealand public art festival involving community. Selected artist projects involving widespread public participation make links between local geographies, histories and communities. In addition the festival welcomes the contribution of local water-related organisations and arts group to respond to the theme through the council’s public space programme.

Through innovation and participation the festival will demonstrate how art can be a leading force in enabling social change, as well as beautiful, delightful and engaging.

For more information on the concept and background on the Hutt’s relationship to water go here. And visit our resources page for links to relevant material. Join the Common Ground Facebook page to keep up to date.