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Valley of a Thousand Plants ignites Lake Mac Arts program

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A psychedelic forest of giant plants is set to immerse visitors to the Multi-Arts Pavilion, mima, in the ecological wonders of Lake Macquarie.

The stunning 360-degree digital installation – opening on Saturday 9 December – is the product of artist-in-residence Joel Zika, whose cutting-edge works have featured in festivals from Victoria to the United States.

Zika’s exhibition kicks off a bumper 12-month program of arts and music in Lake Mac, with events planned across the city’s cultural venues.

The work, titled Valley of a Thousand Plants, is a nod to a 2014 ecological study of Dora Creek and the surrounding region.

Zika said he became fascinated with some of the uniquely shaped plants endemic to the area, such as the gymea lily, pigface lily and swamp mahogany.

Within in the installation, the plants appear like alien forms, using sensors to respond to the movement of exhibition visitors.

Joel Zika launches ‘Valley of a Thousand Plants’ at MAP Saturday 9 December.

“One of the things that technology has always been fantastic at is changing the scale of the world around us,” Zika said.

“In this show I’ve tried to turn the gallery into a bizarre kind of microscope where you can move around flora that would otherwise make up only a small part of the world around you.

“I’ve taken liberties with every element of nature. Leaves and gumnuts have become golden decorations, while small native fruit glows like neon signs.”

Lake Macquarie City mayor Kay Fraser said the 2024 program included everything from showstopping art exhibitions to a festival of choirs featuring choral groups from across the Hunter.

“We have a fantastic lineup of events and exhibitions locked in,” she said.

“Now’s the time to check out the program, buy tickets as Christmas gifts and become a Lake Mac Arts member to receive discounts to our shows and events.”

To mark the opening of Zika’s exhibition, MAP mima will host a ‘conversation and cocktail’ with the artist on Saturday 9 December from 6pm until 9pm.

Go to arts.lakemac.com.au for more information about the evening, the Valley of a Thousand Plants exhibition and other upcoming art and music events in Lake Mac.

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