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Graduate expresses environmental protest in art

June 23, 2014
Thinking inside the box – Lillie Chapman with her art installation in Ahuriri.

Thinking inside the box – Lillie Chapman
with her art installation in Ahuriri.

A compelling art installation depicting global fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was Lillie Chapman’s sign-off to Hawke’s Bay, with the talented EIT graduate now settling into life in Australia.

As last year’s overall top Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design student at EIT’s ideaschool, Lillie was awarded a two-week exhibition sponsored by Mackersey Construction.

Her installation was displayed in The Box, a glasssided former shipping container set up in Waghorne Street, Ahuriri.

Her work portrayed a collapsed Earth, representing the impact on the planet of radioactive leakage from the stricken nuclear power plant on Japan’s east coast. Three of Fukishima’s six nuclear reactors failed in the wake of the cataclysmic tsunami triggered by 2011’s Tohoku earthquake.

The ongoing aftermath “gnaws at the edges of my sanity,” says Lillie, who wound fluorescent green acrylic yarn around a hemispherical form to suggest radiation and a deformed globe and used fabric that she buried and later unearthed to convey decay on the continental land masses.

The installation, which included an LED rope light, could also be viewed at night.

In Melbourne, Lillie is aiming to earn “break money” while developing her art practice.

Next year she wants to start Master in Art Therapy studies at La Trobe University.

While studying at ideaschool, the 24-year-old from Whakatu also worked as a volunteer at the Stewart Centre@EIT. The centre, in the heart of the Hawke’s Bay campus, provides rehabilitation for people with brain injuries.

Lillie wants a rewarding job while still practising as an artist and, excited for a new adventure, she believes the time was right for a change.

“I want to feel space and to see what’s going on in the wider art scene.”

She’s both sorry and pleased to have completed her bachelor’s degree.

“I’m happy to have finished but I’m no longer with my classmates and lecturers. I enjoyed their feedback and when you’re doing your own practice you don’t get that. It’s so valuable. You get so close to it sometimes you lose yourself.

“You definitely achieve more quickly by studying the degree than creating art by yourself.”

A capable science student at school, Lillie was encouraged to follow that direction in choosing tertiary studies.

“It took a while to harden up and do art, but some of my work does incorporate aspects of science.”