Dream Sails Exhibition – Heather Hertel

Saturday 16 March – Sunday 24 March

Pop-up Exhibition by Heather Hertel
New Zealand Maritime Museum

Heather Hertel is an American artist undertaking a summer residency at Wintec in Aotearoa. For this residency she will be creating a series of art works that will be installed at the Maritime Museum in a pop up, short term exhibition. The art works will be made from recycled sailcloth and imagery will be influenced by Aotearoa New Zealand maritime themes.

The installation will bring life and colour and movement to the Maritime Museum’s outdoor concourse, and will include interactive elements for public participation.

For Hertel, the physical art making process reflects and embodies the experience of sailing on the water – connected to the wind, the water and movement of the ocean. When we encounter new environments, we learn about our self and our relationship with the Earth and others. This exhibition encompasses an artist’s journey to an island in the South Pacific to live her dream, experiencing a sailing culture through art making. The artist will translate her observations into brushstrokes through painting on recycled sailcloth.

History of The Sailcloth Art Project

The idea began as the artist, while racing on a J35, observed a spinnaker sail becoming unleashed from the vessel ahead, floating adrift, parallel to the water, above the tree tops on the peninsula of Presque Isle Bay, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA. This strong image correlated with the concept the artist was striving for: to imbue figurative art with the feeling of wind, movement, weightlessness, anti-gravity, and the freedom of one’s spirit.

The artist started working with a dancer and photographer (2015) to capture improvisational movements of figures, which eventually led to painting on the actual sailcloth to combine and connect the passions of dancing, painting and sailing. The first built environments include collaged figures of dancers floating up away from the sails to share the experiential and freeing feeling of dancing, sailing, and art making.

What became known as, The Sailcloth Art Project, includes artists, sailors, dancers, musicians, poets, and scientists extending cross-disciplinary interactions to the community at both art and sailing venues. The first exhibition culminated at the Bayfront Maritime Center, in Erie, PA, during Tall Ships Erie 2016. The goal of the project was to evoke the motion and fluidity of sailing, and the energy of the wind, with both indoor and outdoor installations consisting of large-scale painting and sculpture on recycled racing sails.


Public Programmes: Children's Sail Cloth Painting Project 


  • Residents of the Auckland region can visit the Maritime Museum galleries for free if they provide proof of address on arrival
  • Children: 5-14 years old (4 years and under are free)
  • Family Pass = 2 adults & 2 children or 1 adult & 3 children

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