Puppet show shows not all green is good

28 June 2018

Weeds have a massive impact on our environment, so we’ve invited artists to raise awareness through art – and a school holiday puppet show is set to do that.

Anna Bailey and puppets for Weeds show

Anna Bailey and her Wellington puppet company String Bean Puppets, has created The Tree Friends, a puppet show for children and families centred around a tale of a kererū and child on a journey to protect a baby kohekohe tree from dangerous climbing weeds.

Getting the message across that not all green is good, highlighting the impact weeds have on native flora and fauna, and that action starts at home in our own backyards and local reserves needed an exciting new direction, says Biosecurity Technical Advisor Illona Keenan.

“Predator Free New Zealand has really shone a light on the how the community can get engaged and support the natural environment, and we wanted the Weeds project to spark the same amount of interest.

“Council and community groups plant approximately 100,000 native trees each year, but without weed control our native forest will struggle to thrive. So, alongside our current methods of weed control, we commissioned two artists to create art to highlight our key messages.”

In 2017, Council put out a call to artists to create a temporary artwork to help raise awareness of weeds in our city. Wellington photographer Shaun Matthews’ project Incursion and Anna Bailey’s String Bean Puppets were selected by a panel of environmental and arts experts. The project is supported by the Weeds Awareness and the Public Art Funds.

Council Arts Advisor Eve Armstrong says the project has already been a successful collaboration.

“Shaun Matthew’s Incursion exhibition was shown in Otari-Wilton Bush, the Botanic Gardens, and Bush City at Te Papa in March this year – contrasting the beauty of weeds with the smothering devastation they cause in a series of large photographic images on fabric hung high among the trees and bush.

“All of his displays had high visitor numbers from all age groups and demographics – and we know that Anna’s puppet shows will also get the community engaged.”

The free puppet show will be performed at a number of schools around the capital, but will also be open to the public at local libraries, community centres, and the Wellington Museum.