Melissa Laing

Melissa Laing, A Platform from which to look at the sea, 2022

MP3 audio 25 min. Tawa, pine, decking oil. 700 x 2000 x 3000mm.

In this artwork comprising two parts, Melissa Laing reinscribes the ordinary act of transit across the Waitematā Harbour as one of wayfinding through a landscape of ideas and experiences, many of them overshadowed or neglected among the multiple enterprises which animate the thoroughfare of the gulf daily.

An audio accompaniment to the ferry journey can be activated at the mainland terminal. The track weaves personal and civic histories, conceptual provocations, and ambient sound effects, all synced with the sensory experience of the passage, to give an expanded and embodied account of the Hauraki Gulf and the politics and poetics of its use and misuse. 

The second component of the artwork is a platform on the headland carved to look like the ocean surface. Laing offers this part of the work as an opportunity for visitors to stand looking back to the city and reflect on the tapestry of social ecologies knitted together by this body of water as it wraps around the Auckland isthmus.


Lives and works in Waitākere.

Melissa Laing’s art practice spans film, conceptual writing, print and sculpture. She has exhibited widely in art spaces globally, including Sydney, Toronto, Germany, and Brazil. In New Zealand, she has created projects for the Auckland Fringe Festival, Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, The Physics Room, and Rm, Te Tuhi and Te Uru.

Laing is also the lead researcher for the Performance Ethics Working Group, an initiative of the University Without Conditions. She is the director of the Urban Walking Festival and leads the digital strategy for the Going West Writers Festival. Between 2014 and 2021, Laing worked as the Whau Community Arts Broker, an initiative of the Whau Local Board to support temporary art activations across a local area. She has a PhD from the University of Sydney, and her writing has been published in magazines, academic journals, and exhibition and artist catalogues.


This project has been realised with the support of the following people: Robin Paulson, Ed Aretino, Ivan Mršić, Ross Forbes, James Littlewood, and Sarah Laing. Hydrophone recordings courtesy Craig Radford, Leigh Marine Laboratory, Institute of Marine Science, The University of Auckland. Voice recorded at the Crescendo studios.