George Turner

Second Impressions

24 July – 13 August 2023

Nestled amidst the rivers, wetlands, plains, and mountains, Aotearoa’s environment carries the indelible marks of colonialism and the relentless modern pursuit of wealth. The quest for riches has exacted a heavy toll, ravaging entire ecosystems and pushing countless species to the brink of extinction. Despite earnest efforts to restore what was lost, two centuries of exploitation have left deep scars etched not only on the land but also on the very fabric of our society.

Second Impressions aims to explore Pākehā relationships with land, engaging with past and present attitudes, imagery, and actions. At the heart of this series stand three majestic forest giants – Rīmu, Kahikatea, and Tōtara – revered for their timber ever since Cook’s earliest voyage up the Waihou, which triggered systematic deforestation. Today, these towering podocarps have been supplanted by vast monocultures of Pinus radiata that blanket the landscape, bringing new troubles in their wake. Through this series Turner explores themes of identity, place, and ecology with the aim to unveil lingering ideologies and confront the pressing environmental challenges of our time. By addressing these themes, Second Impressions strives to nurture an understanding of the past and its implications for the present and future, envisioning a harmonious coexistence with nature, one that honours indigenous wisdom, embraces sustainable practices, and paves the way for a more compassionate and resilient tomorrow.

George Turner (Pākehā) was born and currently lives and works in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Extended across a multitude of practices, Turner’s work has consistently traversed an ecological narrative with the desire to unpack aspects of trauma still rooted in Aotearoa. From large scale projections, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and across all of the digital disciplines their work presents a digital analysis of this contemporary world. Since 2018, Turner has exhibited between Wellington and Auckland, steadily developing a practice which tackles environmental destruction.

As well as their own practice, Turner has assisted artist Lisa Reihana on some of their recent works including ‘Ihi’, shown in the landmark exhibition Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art (2021) and more recently ‘The Battle’ as part of the Aotearoa Festival of Arts. 2022 saw Turner participate in the first trans-Tasman digital artist fellowship co-ordinated by the Australian Arts Council and Creative New Zealand, which brought together artists from a wide range of mediums with the intent of developing each other’s practices. Second Impressions is the latest collection in Turner’s continuing body of work, being created over the past year.