E Tiaki | Take Care, artHAUS Auckland, March -11 Apr 2021

27 Mar

Artists in Aotearoa | New Zealand are kaitiaki (stewards) for artists
in countries more stricken by COVID-19

Aodhán Floyd | April Shin | Ashleigh Taupaki | Bev Goodwin | Brenda Liddiard
Cathy Carter | Chiara Rubino | Emma Papadopoulos | Jessy Rahman | Jumaadi
Lipika Sen | Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole | Lloyd Lawrence | Michelle Mayn
Naomi Roche | Narjis Mirza | Martin Wohlwend | Masud Olufani
Nawruz Paguidopon | Prabhjyot Majithia | Phil Dadson
Pietertje van Splunter Robert Hamilton | Sen McGlinn | Shaeron Caton Rose
Sonja van Kerkhoff | Ursula Christel | Xiaojie Zheng | Yllwbro

Metamorfosi, 2021, Chiara Rubino (Matera, Italy) and Cathy Carter (Auckland, NZ) Archival pigment ink photographic print on Hahnemuhle photo rag 306gsm. 140 x 90 cm, $2500 Cathy Carter blends wave images from NZ, with Chiara Rubino's photographs from Southern Italy in a gesture of cleansing and healing. More works in the main gallery.

Detail – Metamorfosi, 2021, Chiara Rubino (Matera, Italy) and Cathy Carter (Auckland, NZ)
Archival pigment ink photographic print on Hahnemuhle photo rag 306gsm. 140 x 90 cm.
Two more works in the main gallery. More photos on artsdiary.co.nz
Left of doorway: Planetscape by Lloyd Lawrence (NYC, USA) and Sonja van Kerkhoff,
The Shaman and the Healing Tree (with mirror) by Jessy Rahman (NL) and Sonja van Kerkhoff.
Metro Manila, photo-print by Nawruz Paguidopon
Above: A Paradox of Place by Sonja van Kerkhoff. Acrylic on wood, 61 x 84 cm. Wood from the Netherlands with a view of Matariki (The Seven Sisters constellation) as above Aotearoa.
Earthscape I, II, III, by Lloyd Lawrence (NYC, USA) with Sonja van Kerkhoff, 3 laser prints on transparency. Limited Edition of 5. Approx 29 x 20 cm. Lloyd emailed photos of his colleges made out of Art Catalogues, giving Sonja freedom to print them in any manner.
Diary of Dust, 2016, Animated, Produced, and Directed by Dave Brown. 2 min 53 sec animation featuring Jumaadi’s, 2014, 7 metre drawing made during a residency at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston School of the Arts, South Carolina, U.S.A. The Halsey Institute commissioned San Francisco-based filmmaker Dave Brown to make this video animation with original gamelan music, composed and performed by Nathan Koc.

Nicosia Crossing by Aodhán Floyd, Ireland, and Sen McGlinn Kawakawa, NZ

Philoxenia 4, 2021, by Emma Papadopoulos. Acrylic on paper, 24 x 30 cm
Josephine’s Mother by Sonja van Kerkhoff, photo-print, 10 x 10 cm, crushed paper – Naomi Roche.

Nicosia Crossing by Aodhán Floyd (Ireland) and Sen McGlinn (Kawakawa, NZ). Site-specific installation. Prepared wooden window frame, text, paper, tissue. Approx 1 m x 2 m.
Sen printed out a drawing onto multiple layers, and assembled these under a wooden construction. Drawing by Aodhán Floyd of his father standing in the UN buffer zone in Cyprus.
“‘Deposition’ is an indirect portrait of my father, Anton Floyd, a poet and translator. He is standing in his home city, at a barricaded border crossing on the southern side of the ‘Green Line’ that divides the island and runs through the capital.” – Aodhán Floyd, Cork, Ireland
Texts incorporate Emma’s thoughts (her father is a Cypriot), Aodhan’s reflections, Sonja’s 2009 performance across the Nicosia Green Line, and Sen’s reflections.

The Green Line, 2021 by Bev Goodwin. Recycled telephone wire.

Philoxenia, 2021. Arrangements by Emma Papadopoulos (Greece), Naomi Roche and Sonja van Kerkhoff
“Philoxenia of Greek origin literally means ‘friend to a stranger’. Philoxenia pertains to taking care of, looking after, being hospitable. My tavern chairs, my cultural reference to Greek hospitality, are currently empty due to lockdown.”
– Emma Papadopoulos, Athens, Greece.
April Shin, Brenda Liddiard, Cathy Carter and Chiara Rubino, Jumaadi, Masud Olufani and Ursula Christel, Nawruz Paguidopon, Phil Dadson, Pietertje van Splunter, Robert Hamilton, Shaeron Caton Rose, Sonja van Kerkhoff, Xiaojie Zheng, Yllwbro

Detail of the main gallery – works by Aodhán Floyd (Cork, Ireland), April Shin, Brenda Liddiard, Jumaadi (Australia/Indonesia), Emma Papadopoulos (greece), Masud Olufani (USA) and Ursula Christel, Nawruz Paguidopon (The Philippines), Phil Dadson, Pietertje van Splunter (The Netherlands), Shaeron Caton Rose (UK), and Xiaojie Zheng (SF, USA/Wenzhou, China)

selfies from the other side - Aodhán Floyd, Chiara Rubino, Emma Papadopoulos, Jessy Rahman, Jumaadi, Lloyd Lawrence, Martin Wohlwend, Masud Olufani, Nawruz Paguidopon, Pietertje van Splunter, Robert Hamilton, Shaeron Caton Rose and Xiaojie Zheng

selfies from the other side – Aodhán Floyd, Chiara Rubino, Emma Papadopoulos, Jessy Rahman, Jumaadi, Lloyd Lawrence, Martin Wohlwend, Masud Olufani, Nawruz Paguidopon, Pietertje van Splunter, Robert Hamilton, Shaeron Caton Rose and Xiaojie Zheng

Details about each selfie is here: sonjavank.com/takecare/

The Wealth of the Nation, 2021, by Masud Olufani (Atalant, USA) and Ursula Christel (Warkworth, NZ). 4-minute video, with accompanying text and a wall installation in the main gallery. Repurposed metal birdcage and brass bell, 2 framed digital prints, NZ native timber, cut and burnt copy of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (first published in 1776), twine, shellac. POA. The installation is a reinterpretation of The Wealth of the Nation (2019) by Masud Olufani; re-framed in New Zealand by Ursula Christel, in consultation with Masud.

The Wealth of the Nation, 2021, by Masud Olufani (Atalant, USA)
and Ursula Christel (Warkworth, NZ).
4-minute video, with accompanying text and a wall installation in the main gallery. Repurposed metal birdcage and brass bell, 2 framed digital prints, NZ native timber, cut and burnt copy of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (first published in 1776), twine, shellac. POA. The installation is a reinterpretation of The Wealth of the Nation (2019) by Masud Olufani; re-framed in New Zealand by Ursula Christel, in consultation with Masud.

Aus dem Gleichgewicht (Out of Balance), 2021, by Martin R. Wohlwend (Triesen, Liechtenstein) and Naomi Roche (Hamilton, NZ). Site specific installation; assortment of mats and carpets from the NZ artists homes

Global Pandemic, 2021, by Robert Hamilton and Bev Goodwin 1 minute, 35 second video. Lightbox by Cathy Carter. Aus dem Gleichgewicht (Out of Balance), 2021, by Martin R. Wohlwend (Triesen, Liechtenstein) and Naomi Roche (Hamilton, NZ). Mats and carpets from artists’ homes. Windowsill sculptures: Kete I + Kete II by Ashleigh Taupaki (Auckland, NZ) and Shaeron Caton Rose (North Yorkshire, U.K). Mind That Māori suspended crochet vest by Lissy & Rudi Robinson. They are Minding their own Business, silkscreen on cloth by Sonja van Kerkhoff. Toro Mai Tō Ringa / Reach Out Your Hand, animation + wall sculpture by Nawruz Bernado Paguidopon (Manila, The Philippines) and Lissy & Rudi Robinson-Cole (Auckland, NZ).
The Wealth of the Nation, 2021, by Masud Olufani and Ursula Christel.

Global Pandemic, 2021, by Robert Hamilton and Bev Goodwin 1 minute, 35 second video. Lightbox by Cathy Carter. Aus dem Gleichgewicht (Out of Balance), 2021, by Martin R. Wohlwend (Triesen, Liechtenstein) and Naomi Roche (Hamilton, NZ). Mats and carpets from artists’ homes. Windowsill sculptures: Kete I + Kete II by Ashleigh Taupaki (Auckland, NZ) and Shaeron Caton Rose (North Yorkshire, U.K).

Detail: Rigenerazione by Chiara Rubino (Matera, Italy) and Cathy Carter (Auckland). Global Pandemic, 2021, by Robert Hamilton and Bev Goodwin 1 minute, 35 second video. Lightbox by Cathy Carter. Aus dem Gleichgewicht (Out of Balance) by Martin R. Wohlwend and Naomi Roche. Mats and carpets. Windowsill sculptures: Kete I + Kete II by Ashleigh Taupaki and Shaeron Caton Rose.

Rigenerazione by Chiara Rubino (Matera, Italy) and Cathy Carter (Auckland). Global Pandemic, 2021, by Robert Hamilton and Bev Goodwin 1 minute, 35 second video. Lightbox by Cathy Carter. Aus dem Gleichgewicht (Out of Balance) by Martin R. Wohlwend and Naomi Roche. Mats and carpets. Windowsill sculptures: Kete I + Kete II by Ashleigh Taupaki and Shaeron Caton Rose.

Transformazione, 2021, by Chiara Rubino (Italy) and Cathy Carter (Auckland). Archival pigment ink photographic print on Hahnemuhle photo rag 306gsm. 140cm x 90cm. Rigenerazione by Chiara Rubino and Cathy Carter. Global Pandemic by Robert Hamilton and Bev Goodwin. Lightbox by Cathy Carter. Aus dem Gleichgewicht (Out of Balance) by Martin R. Wohlwend and Naomi Roche. Windowsill: Kete I + Kete II by Ashleigh Taupaki and Shaeron Caton Rose.

31. Colour wheel, 2021, by Pietertje van Splunter. Acrylic paint on wood

Colour wheel, 2021, by Pietertje van Splunter. Acrylic paint on wood. Te Ara ki Rangihoua: The Way to Rangihoua (2018), by Yllwbro (NZ) and participating artists, five scallop shells. Care of the artists and Mokopopaki. Transformazione by Chiara Rubino and Cathy Carter.

Te Ara ki Rangihoua: The Way to Rangihoua , by Yllwbro (NZ) and participating artists.

Te Ara ki Rangihoua: The Way to Rangihoua by Yllwbro (NZ) and participating artists.

Te Ara ki Rangihoua: The Way to Rangihoua (2018), by Yllwbro (NZ) and participating artists – a scallop shell for each person, hung at their heart-height. With accompanying text elsewhere in the gallery. Lloyd Lawrence, NYC, U.S.A (153 cm), Shaeron Caton Rose, North Yorkshire, U.K (120 cm), Nawruz Paguidopon, Manila, The Philippines (127 cm), Xiaojie Zheng, San Francisco U.S.A. / Wenzhou, China (120 cm), Robert Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, (150 cm). Scallop shells, brown string, moko adhesive. Care of the artists and Mokopōpaki.

Lissy writes Nawruz’s name. Te Ara ki Rangihoua: The Way to Rangihoua (2018) by Yllwbro (NZ) and participating artists.
– a scallop shell for each person, hung at their heart-height. With accompanying text elsewhere in the gallery. Lloyd Lawrence, NYC, U.S.A (153 cm), Shaeron Caton Rose, North Yorkshire, U.K (120 cm), Nawruz Paguidopon, Manila, The Philippines (127 cm), Xiaojie Zheng, San Francisco U.S.A. / Wenzhou, China (120 cm),
Robert Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, (150 cm).
Scallop shells, brown string, moko adhesive. Care of the artists and Mokopōpaki.

29. E-Motion (Kinetic series #1), 2021, Phil Dadson (Auckland. NZ) responds to work by Pietertje van Splunter  (The Netherlands). Acrylic paint on wood, motor/Arduino module, steel stand. E-motion series is a spin-off from the June Music concept (2019), where ratios of frequency, rhythm and colour are conjured up from imagined lines of sonic shape and form in the material world. Like a breathing mandala, this first of the E–Motion series animates this idea from the 3rd to the 4th dimension. (With thanks to James Charlton for motor/Arduino assistance).

E-Motion (Kinetic series #1), 2021 by Phil Dadson, a response to Colour wheel, 2021, by Pietertje van Splunter (The Hague, The Netherlands, acrylic on wood -tree ring).
Acrylic on wood, motor/Arduino module, steel stand. The E-motion series is a spin-off from the June Music concept (2019), where ratios of frequency, rhythm and colour are conjured up from imagined lines of sonic shape and form in the material world. Like a breathing mandala, this first of the E–Motion series animates this idea from the 3rd to the 4th dimension.
(With thanks to James Charlton for motor/Arduino assistance).

Turning the tables: “inclusion is … making a new space”

22 Jun

The birth of Islam created a new space where non-Arabs and the lower strata of the tribes were included.

The Arabic text closest to the entrance to the first gallery of the Ko rātou, ko tātou | On other-ness, on us-ness exhibition (See details here or go to the blog introducing this exhibition) that was on show at NorthArt, Auckland, reads as “first house” (avvala baytin). Below this was the sentence from the Qur’an:
“Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for humanity was that at Makkah [Bakka] – blessed and a guidance for the worlds.”
The Qur’an, 3:96

Left to Right: Wave (detail), custom-made water tank by Jeff Thomson Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level (2018) by Ursula Christel. Courtesy the artist and Mokopōpaki Acrylic, gesso, printed perspex, metal lugs, pencil, sealant on board (99 x 61cm), plastic spirit level (6 x 61cm). Gavin Chilcott Pilgrimage to Mecca 50 x 70 cm. Framed pastel on paper. Courtesy: John Perry. Arabic text above reads: "first house (avvala baytin)"

Left to Right: Wave (detail), custom-made water tank by Jeff Thomson (link to a discussion of this work); Arabic text above reads: “first house (avvala baytin)”; Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level (2018) by Ursula Christel. Courtesy the artist and Mokopōpaki Acrylic, gesso, printed perspex, metal lugs, graphite, sealant on board (99 x 61cm), plastic spirit level (6 x 61cm);
Gavin Chilcott Pilgrimage to Mecca, 50 x 70 cm. Framed pastel on paper. Courtesy: John Perry.

Ever since the 1980s, when I first started reading about Islam, coming from a Roman Catholic background myself, I was struck by the concept of the qibla because while Rome is important, Catholics around the world, do not face a specific location while in prayer. The significance of this as I viewed it was that the Prophet Muhammad had envisioned a worldwide religion – of all cultures around the world facing the same location, as a daily sign of a shared global focus. Then while engaged in research for this exhibition I discovered that the text from the Qur’an refers to a change of direction, because previously the Prophet’s followers had faced Jerusalem when they prayed which was also the Jewish custom, and now they were to face Mecca (also known as Bakka or Bekka, the name of the area, or Makkah. See 2:144 which speaks of changing the qibla to Mecca).

For me as a Bahai, this brought in the concept of progressive revelation, the idea that all religions are the same religion (with the same God), and the variations are in relation to culture and history. So I saw the change as indicative of the evolution of Islam, even during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. It also explained for me why The Dome of the Rock built in Jerusalem in 691–92 at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik could have been built, although there is no clear record of its initial purpose. At the time, Jerusalem was a holy city for Jews and Christians. This building rivalled the Christian buildings, transforming the best aspects of current Byzantine architecture into a new form. The 1022-23 rebuilt Dome of the Rock has texts on the walls referring to Islamic teachings about Jesus. Today it is one of the oldest extant works of Islamic architecture, protects the rock believed to bear the imprint of the Prophet Muhammad’s foot, and is an icon and influence on Islamic architecture.

Foreground: New Space / Takawaenga, 2020, by Ursula Christel.
Left to Right: Wake, custom-made water tank, by Jeff Thomson; Arabic text reads: “first house”; Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level, 2018, by Ursula Christel. Courtesy the artist and Mokopōpaki; Pilgrimage to Mecca, 1986, by Gavin Chilcott.

Ursula Christel’s floor piece, made for this exhibition, New Space / Takawaenga, is the result of her research inspired by the concept of inclusion and the geometry of the floor plan of the Dome of the Rock. This Islamic holy place stands on a site that is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims – three of the Abrahamic religions.

Ko rātou, ko tātou | On Other-ness, on us-ness NorthArt, Northcote, Auckland, Aotearoa | New Zealand curated by Salama Moata McNamara + Sonja van Kerkhoff opened 16 March 2020. Closed on March 22nd. New Zealand went into lockdown on 26 March and so the exhibition remains behind closed doors until ... Some artworks were responses to the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacres while others are recontexualisations in relation to the Qur'an and the diverse cultures and histories of Islamic worlds.

Foreground: New Space / Takawaenga, 2020, by Ursula Christel.
Left to Right: Wake, custom-made silkscreened water tank, by Jeff Thomson; Arabic text “first house” (avvala baytin); Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level by Ursula Christel. Courtesy the artist and Mokopōpaki; Pilgrimage to Mecca by Gavin Chilcott; From the Eros and Psyche series (111), 1966/67, gouache on silk, by Joanna Margaret Paul, Courtesy M Paul;
two untitled corrugated iron sculptures by Jeff Thomson.

Like the Dome of the Rock, Christel’s, New Space / Takawaenga, is based on polygonal structures – of lines and repetitions of forms creating illusory space/s. Christel’s ‘new space’ is conceptualized not only in the multi-layered sight lines heading off at diverse angles across the space of the gallery but the stark checkered tiles also pull the eye to the pivot.

New Space / Takawaenga, 2020, by Ursula Christel. re-purposed wooden table (dia. 118 cm), 4 table legs (H: 46 cm), vinyl flooring, 3 mm acrylic sheets (83 x 83cm), glass chess board (38 x 38cm), ceramic tile (20 x 20cm), composite board (dia. 65cm), jute, LED lights.

This axis is created by four upcycled arabesque table legs. One of the four legs, has a disability – there is a piece missing. Christel told me that one in four people have a disability of some sort.

The architectural references connect to her other work in the same gallery space, Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level, which also features circles within squares and vice versa.

Detail: Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level by Ursula Christel.

This painting features a translucent image of her son who was born with Angelman syndrome, inside a circle superimposed over an image of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man. Leonardo’s ‘ideal man’ is a faded shadow within a larger circle while Christel’s son sits up in a wheelchair with his arms held up and elbows bent outwards, a gesture that I — having met him a few times — recognize as meaning he is happy and excited.
One of the wheels rests on the outer of the two circles as if to demonstrate that the circle around him is a bubble that moves with him. That this is his world, who he is, and he belongs. This repudiates the idea of the ideal human in Leonardo’s image. Both images of the self utilize the circle to symbolize one’s reach – one’s place in the cosmos.

Left to Right: Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level by Ursula Christel;
Pilgrimage to Mecca, 1986, by Gavin Chilcott.

The six horizontal bars or steps in Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level, form part of a frame around the image of Christel’s son, as if to show that the wheelchair has made it up those levels, or to pose the question of why the wheelchair had to face those barriers? The numbers reminded me of times I have helped disabled friends by counting the steps with them. The bright yellow spirit level laid at the top poses the question: where is the level playing field in this?

Gavin Chilcott, Pilgrimage to Mecca, 50 x 70 cm. Framed pastel on paper.
Courtesy: John Perry.

Next to this work was the Gavin Chilcott pastel, Pilgrimage to Mecca, a fortuitous last minute addition to the exhibition. Here the subject matter is the qibla (‘the first house’) where the expanding ripples of energy-filled lines point to the spiritual – of prayer that flows from and around the qibla. Only Muslims may enter space around the Kaaba, a building at the center of Islam’s most important mosque, the Great Mosque of Mecca, so I also interpreted the surrounding disparate coloured swirls and abstracted forms as symbolic of the cultural diversity of Muslims. I haven’t been able to discover any context for this drawing, except that Chilcott often drew on diversities in his work. So it is a mystery to me, why New Zealand born and raised Chilcott made this drawing, on that January day in 1986.

On the wall opposite was Talking Sticks by Carolyn Lye and above another text in Arabic. This read: “Until you have asked permission”

Left to Right: The Prison of Self, 2015, by Sonja van Kerkhoff, 20 cm diameter, photographic print, texts in Persian, Māori and English, and oil-based varnish. Edition of 35. Text is from the Hidden Words by Baha’ullah, founder of the Bahai Faith; Text in Arabic reads: “Until you have asked permission,”; Talking Sticks, Korare stems, acrylic paint – 5 pieces, by Carolyn Lye.

Middle Eastern Islamic societies put a high value on the protected space of the home. The Qur’an tells the believers “Do not enter houses — other than your own — until you have asked permission of the people of the house, and have greeted them with peace.” (14:27). It is the space itself and the family life it enables, that is inviolable, for if there is nobody home, the faithful are still told they should not enter (14:28). But hospitality in the home also has a high value. Respect for the protected space of family life constrains the behaviour of guests, who should not presume too much. Guests in the home of the Prophet were told “when you ask them for something, ask it of them from behind a hejaab screen (مِن وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ).” (33:53)

Left to Right: The Prison of Self, by Sonja van Kerkhoff; Talking Sticks by Carolyn Lye; Conference of the Stones, 2013, video with soundscape by Phil Dadson (link to a discussion of this work); Detail of New Space / Takawaenga by Ursula Christel.


I associated the Arabic text to two loose ideas – the Middle Eastern Islamic practice of distinguishing or dividing between inner and outer domestic spaces and the use of the word ‘hejab’ which means screen and is the same word used for the headscarf. I placed two works nearby which I felt related aesthetically to this Middle Eastern Islamic sense of the protected space.

Talking Sticks by Carolyn Lye

Lye’s, Talking Sticks were arranged to create a ‘space’ behind them as well linking them to architecture of the gallery space. The second work, the circular “Prison of Self” by myself, shows text in Persian, English and Māori. It is a Bahai text, not Islamic, but Islamicate (from the space/s of an Islamic world). A translucent veil pierced by Persian text hangs like a screen in the photograph collage.

Left to Right: The Prison of Self by Sonja van Kerkhoff; Talking Sticks by Carolyn Lye; New Space / Takawaenga by Ursula Christel; Conference of the Stones by Phil Dadson.


Religions almost always involve the differentiation of space and meaning into the inner and outer, sacred and profane, referential and literal. The four works in this corner of the gallery, for me, are explorations of this theme of the differentiation of space and meaning in relation to Islam. In the video soundpiece, Conference of the Stones by Phil Dadson, profane stones are charged by action into a meditation or an invocation of the spirit.

The Māori title of Christel’s floorpiece, ‘Takawaenga’ (mediating/ed space/s), refers to a process. The work can also be read as an upside down table. A table that has been re-conceived in layerings, yet its circular form and central focus, created by the arrangement of the four legs, make it not a table but rather a direction for moving towards. In Sufi thought the lote tree of the outer limit (Sidrat al-Muntaha) marks the direction of all journeys. In choosing a circular table form and turning it over, the artist was inspired by George Dei’s words, “Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.” 1

Left to Right: New Space / Takawaenga by Ursula Christel; Conference of the Stones by Phil Dadson; Peace Flight, 2011, giclée digital print by Brenda Liddiard. About her work >>

1. Dei, G.S.N. (2006). Meeting equity fair and square. Keynote address to the Leadership Conference of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, September 28, 2006, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

About the 24 artists in the exhibition >>

Carolyn Lye, based near Karetu, Northland, Aotearoa | New Zealand, is a fibre artist who weaves and works in natural materials.

Gavin Chilcott, born in Auckland, Aotearoa | New Zealand, in 1950 and attended Auckland Technical Institute in 1967 followed by three years at Elam, School of Fine Arts, Auckland, from 1968-1970. His first exhibition was at the Barry Lett Gallery in 1976 and since then he has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand and Internationally. He has been a recipient of numerous Arts grants and is represented in all major New Zealand Collections.

Sonja van Kerkhoff, born 1960 in Hawera, Taranaki, Aotearoa | New Zealand, has a diploma in Fine Arts (1980-82, Otago School of Arts), dip Secondary Teaching (1986), Masters equivalent with a double major (1989-93, School of Fine Arts, Maastricht, The Netherlands) and a MSc in Media Technology (2005-8, University of Leiden, The Netherlands). She lives in Kawakawa, Northland, Aotearoa / New Zealand and The Hague, The Netherlands. sonjavank.com

Ursula Christel, born 1961 in Durban, South Africa, is of Celtic/ Germanic descent, immigrated to New Zealand in 1996. She has a BA Degree, majoring in Fine Art and Art History (1979 – 81) and a post grad Diploma in Education (1982). She is an artist, tutor, writer and disability advocate, and worked as a writer, editor and photographer for the Celebrate Art series of educational resources, featuring New Zealand and Australian artists.

Bodies of Light – including Islam in a New Zealand aesthetic landscape

8 Jun

These five blogs are an attempt to do some justice to, Ko rātou, ko tātou | On Other-ness, on us-ness, an exhibition that few individuals were able to see due to the gallery being closed because of COVID-19, on March 15, and from March 23 until mid May. The impetus for this exhibition, was my own experiences a year previously, following the Christchurch Mosque massacres. I realised how little experience many empathetic New Zealanders had of Islam. I am a Bahai, not a Muslim, but I have some insight into the diverse cultures of Islam because, over the decades, I, like many Bahais have engaged with Muslims and the Islamic worlds.

Detail of  Huroof e Muqataat (The Disconnected Letters), chalk Arabic letters by Sen McGlinn and Wake, corrugated iron water tank, by Jeff Thomson

Detail of Huroof e Muqataat (The Disconnected Letters), chalk Arabic letters by Sen McGlinn on the inside of
Wake, corrugated iron water tank, by Jeff Thomson

I lived in Muslim-dominated neighbourhoods in the Netherlands for 19 years and worked with mosques and Muslim shop owners in relatively conservative communities in two exhibitions that I curated. These aimed at creating dialogues between contemporary art and aspects of the diversity of Islam. With this background, I started work on developing a show intended to give some insights into Islam, utilizing works by contemporary New Zealand artists as the medium. I am grateful to Wendy Harsant, then manager of NorthArt, for accepting my pitch, and to my co-curator,
Salama Moata McNamara for her help in the exhibition.
Foreground: Wake, silkscreened corrugated iron water tank, by Jeff Thomson; New Space / Takawaenga, circular floorpiece, by Ursula Christel, Talking Sticks by Carolyn Lye, Conference of Stones video and soundscape by Phil Dadson Two texts in Arabic high on the walls read, Left to Right

Click for a larger view of this image.
Foreground: Wake, silkscreened corrugated iron water tank, by Jeff Thomson; New Space / Takawaenga, circular floorpiece, by Ursula Christel; Talking Sticks by Carolyn Lye;
Conference of Stones,
video and soundscape by Phil Dadson
Two texts in Arabic high on the walls read: ﯸ ﯷ (Until you have asked permission) and above the video: ةحال (The Stones)

Some of the works by 24 artists (listed here) were aesthetic responses to the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacres while others were re-contextualizations, or responses to the Qur’an and the diverse cultures and histories of Islamic worlds. A general aim here was to include Islam in a New Zealand aesthetic landscape, and to see what changes.

I will focus here on nine works in the show, and write separate blogs on the other works in the three gallery spaces.

Conference of Stones 10 minute video and soundscape by Phil Dadson

The Arabic text above means “The Stones”
below detail of Conference of Stones,
video and soundscape by Phil Dadson
Photo: Ursula Christel


Five texts in Arabic were positioned high on the walls around the front gallery to re-contextualize the adjacent artworks. One of these texts “Hijārat” (the stones), near Phil Dadson’s video and soundpiece, “Conference of Stones” was accompanied by two excerpts from the Qur’an: “There is not an animal on earth, no bird flying on wings, but they are communities like you.” (6:38) Even the stones “fall down for fear of God” (2:74). Both texts, and the video and soundscape, bring focus to the natural world as a source for understanding. The Qur’an refers to communities in the animal world, while the reference to stones could be read as either a metaphor for the hardened self (“your hearts were hardened”, 2:74) or as the omnipotence of Allah because even stones are moved.
Conference of Stones 9 minute video and soundscape by Phil Dadson

Click for a larger view.
Still: Conference of Stones 10 minute
video and soundscape by Phil Dadson


When I first watched the video it reminded me of the poem “The conference of the birds,” by Persian Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar (c. 1145 – c. 1221) where diverse birds, each with a differing human-like weakness, seek to find a leader. After tests and journeys, thirty birds survive and discover that collectively their diverse traits form something greater.
Conference of Stones video and soundscape by Phil Dadson

Click for a larger view.
Still: Conference of Stones, 2013, video and soundscape,
by Phil Dadson.
Filmed in HD 1920 x 1080 digital moving image, stereo recorded with Sennheisser microphones.
Credits:
Performed by Phil Dadson
Camera by Bruce Foster
Sound recorded by John Kim
Digital video/audio by Phil Dadson
Produced with the support of Pew Charitable Trust, CNZ Arts Council of New Zealand, Colab Creative Technologies,.
Watch an exceprt of this 3 screen video on vimeo.


The ‘conference’ in the poem takes the form of journeys and challenges penned in allegory with multiple meanings, while in the video the ‘conference’ is the distinctive voices of handheld tapping stones collected by the artist from locations in diverse countries. The sonics of these stones were intended to resonate throughout the gallery like ripples and then beyond into the middle gallery to merge with the more abstracted and melodic soundscape from the third gallery, by Los Angeles based omposer and musician, Jessika Kenney.

Conference of Stones video and soundscape by Phil Dadson

Click for a larger view.
Conference of Stones, video and soundscape by Phil Dadson, Peace Flight, (far wall) Passion I and Passion III by Brenda Liddiard; A Matter of Faith, by Fiona Lee Graham; Kete Muka Tuatahi by Christina Hurihia Wirihana.

On the wall adjacent to the video, Passion I and Passion II by Brenda Liddiard function as abstract interludes in earthy tones with surfaces reminiscent of rugged landscapes. The delicate ink drawing, A Matter of Faith, by Fiona Lee Graham, of a nun engaged in hoeing seems to speak of a history of relationship with the land as does the woven kete (basket), Kete Muka Tuatahi (First Flax Fibre Basket) by Christina Hurihia Wirihana.
Passion I and Passion III by Brenda Liddiard

Click for a larger view.
Passion I and Passion III, 2010, Mixed media & collage on board, by Brenda Liddiard;
A Matter of Faith, 2020, monoprint, ink on paper, 150 x 100mm, by Fiona Lee Graham; Kete Muka Tuatahi by Christina Hurihia Wirihana.

Wirihana’s masterly work twists the flax back and forth, contrasting the dull underside against the top side of the flax to create the Inanga (whitebait) design. Like the citation in the Qur’an, the natural world is given a focus for human enlightenment. The patterns of this kete, created purely by twisting and turning, reflect the communities of tiny whitebait wriggling upstream against the odds.
Wake, corrugated iron water tank, by Jeff Thomson

Wake, silkscreened corrugated iron water tank,
by Jeff Thomson
The Arabic text on the wall beyond reads ‘The Heart’


Across from the video stands Wake, a customized mini-watertank by Jeff Thomson. The form speaks of containment, but on closer inspection it is about the impossibility of this. Numerous holes perforate the sides and bottom of the tank. These are not immediately visible because they match the silkscreened watery patterns and are therefore masked. These patterns are the ‘wake’ in the title: signs that something no longer present has passed by.
Detail of Huroof e Muqataat (The Disconnected Letters), chalk Arabic letters by Sen McGlinn inside Jeff Thomson's water tank sculpture.

Click for a larger view.
Detail of Huroof e Muqataat (The Disconnected Letters),
chalk Arabic letters by Sen McGlinn inside
Jeff Thomson’s water tank sculpture.


Inside this water tank are chalked floating Arabic letters, Huroof e Muqataat (The Disconnected Letters) by Sen McGlinn. This refers to the letter sequences called “Huroof e Muqataat” that begin 29 of the 114 chapters of the Qur’an. When reciting these Surahs (Chapters), these letters are pronounced as single letters, not formed into words. They are not semantic units of meaning but serve as sound – or as form if the person is reading – as a mystical or mysterious element to this Holy Book. McGlinn chose these letters to recontextualize this sculpture as a visualization for a sea of meaning that cannot be grasped: the ineffable. The absurdity of water containing water becomes a metaphor for the enigmatic wake left by a presence.
Detail of  Huroof e Muqataat (The Disconnected Letters), chalk Arabic letters by Sen McGlinn<br>and Wake, corrugated iron water tank, by Jeff Thomson

Detail of Huroof e Muqataat (The Disconnected Letters), chalk Arabic letters by Sen McGlinn
and Wake, corrugated iron water tank, by Jeff Thomson. Background: Conference of Stones, video and soundscape by Phil Dadson, Peace Flight, Passion I and Passion III by Brenda Liddiard;
A Matter of Faith, by Fiona Lee Graham;


Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza

Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza

Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza

Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza


The end gallery installation, Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza consists of projections of letters falling down twelve translucent columns of silk. Akin to the “Huroof e Muqataat” of the Qur’an, these letters or letter compositions do not form words. Each letter or combination becomes visible as it strikes the top folds of fabric and then descends to rest in a composition of other letters in the ancient Kufic font. This font is still used for permanent commemorative plaques and hence is generally associated with stability, the semantic and the architectural. Mirza’s use of this font as illuminated descending non-semantic form changes this context to the ephemeral, physical and conceptual. These letter-bodies are not prescriptive but are signs of the abstracted mystical or otherworldly.
Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza

Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza


Mirza is enrolled in a PhD at AUT (Auckland University of Technology) and is influenced by the 20th century Huroofiya Art Movement where Arabic calligraphy is deconstructed and abstracted from its more literal usage. Some schools within this movement also focus on symbolic meanings in the cosmos for these letters. Her interactive installations are practice-based research into philosophical notions of light, language and art and this installation is part of her research. The human presence is a vital part of this installation: the viewer is invited to move between the diaphanous columns.
Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza

Detail: Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza


Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza

Detail: Haykal Al Noor (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza


Projections of these illuminated letters are intended to fall on the visitors’ bodies as well as onto the columns of delicate fabric so that the word ‘Haykal’ (Bodies) in title references both the Arabic letters and the presence of the viewer, whether as the body-self inside the installation, or as observer watching others as forms, continually shaping these projections. The bodies of the visitors complete the intention of this site-specific installation which here, exists in parallel with the soundpiece, Pamor performed and composed by Jessika Kenney. ‘Pamor’ refers to metallurgical patterns in ritual weapons. The sung syllables are abstracted from a Javanese prayer attributed to Sunan Kalijaga, one of the nine Sufis who brought Islam to Java over five centuries ago.

 

A list of the 24 artists in this exhibition | Next blog on this exhibition >>

 
About these 8 artists

Brenda Liddiard is a visual artist and singer songwriter/musician based in Auckland, Aotearoa | New Zealand. She has been exhibiting her paintings since 2008. brendaliddiard.co.nz, and is co-founder of the fundraising art organisation, Art for Change (www.artforchange.net).

Christina Hurihia Wirihana, based in the Bay of Plenty, Aotearoa | New Zealand, is a weaver of Te Arawa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Rangiunora, Ngāti Raukawa, Tainui descent. Wirihana is the Chairperson of Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa (National Collective of Māori Weavers in New Zealand). In 2014 this collective of weavers exhibited 49 tukutuku panels in Kāhui Raranga: The Art of Tukutuku at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. These panels are to be installed early 2015 at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York. In 2003 Wirihana received Te Tohu Toi Kē from Te Waka Toi Creative New Zealand for making a positive development within Māori arts. See: wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina_Wirihana

Fiona Lee Graham, based in Auckland, completed a Bachelor Degree in Design and Visual Art, majoring in Painting, at the Unitec, Auckland, in 2010. See: thegreyplace.nz/artists/fiona-lee-graham

Jessika Kenney, based in Los Angeles, U.S.A. is an experimental vocalist, composer, and teacher. She is most known for her performances of Indonesian vocal music (sindhenan), and Persian vocal music (radifs), as well as for her compositions drawing on elements of both. See her discography – jessikakenney.com

Jeff Thomson based in Helensville, Aotearoa / New Zealand is known for his sculptures and site-specific installations using corrugated iron as his main medium. His sculptures range from the well-crafted and iconic, such as his suite of New Zealand native birds, to the conceptual, such as his cut and corrugated ironing boards, or the add-ons he created for the roofs of houses scattered throughout the city of Whanganui, to the quirky, such as his water tanks, some filled with water, peep holes and motors. jeffthomson.co.nz

Narjis Mirza, born in Pakistan and now based in Sydney, Australia, is an installation artist. Her research examines the confluence of eastern philosophy with virtual reality, highlighting the transcendent philosophy of Persian philosopher Mulla Sadra (1571–1636). She completed her Master’s degree in Media and Design from Bilkent University Ankara, Turkey, after a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts with distinction at the National College of Arts in Pakistan. She is currently undertaking a PhD at the Auckland University of Technology. narjismirza.com

Phil Dadson, based in Auckland, Aotearoa / New Zealand, is a video & sound artist with a transdisciplinary practice including building and performing with experimental musical instruments, sound sculptures, digital media, music compositions, graphic scores and drawings. Moving image and foregrounding sound has been a feature of his practice since the early 70s, referencing the body, land, nature, and the human condition. He also founded the music/performance group, From Scratch (1974 – 2004). Awards & residencies include: US Fulbright 1991, NZ Arts Foundation Artist Laureate 2001, Antarctic Artist Fellowship 2003, ONZM 2005, Sankriti residency (India 2007), Artist Cinema commission 2010, Wallace Arts Trust Jury award 2011. thearts.co.nz/artists/phil-dadson

Sen McGlinn, born in Christchurch, Aotearoa / New Zealand has recently returned to live in the Far North after living in the Netherlands for almost 30 years. He has a Master’s in Islamic Studies from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, where he is working on a PhD. He has authored and co-authored a number of books in Persian Literature & Iranian Studies. He has exhibited in sculpture parks and galleries since the early 90s. sculpturebysen.wordpress.com

To the next blog on this exhibition >>

Auckland show – Islam in dialogue – NorthArt, closes 31 May 2020

22 May

Ko rātou, ko tātou | On Other-ness, on us-ness
NorthArt, Northcote, Auckland, Aotearoa | New Zealand

curated by Salama Moata McNamara + Sonja van Kerkhoff

Open now until 31 May 2020
Artists will be at the gallery 12-3pm,
Sat., Sun., and Monday, 12-3, 23-25th May

Ko rātou, ko tātou | On Other-ness, on us-ness NorthArt, Northcote, Auckland, Aotearoa | New Zealand curated by Salama Moata McNamara + Sonja van Kerkhoff opened 16 March 2020.

Left to Right: Wave, custom-made water tank by Jeff Thomson
Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level by Ursula Christel. Courtesy the artist and Mokopōpaki
Pilgrimage to Mecca by Gavin Chilcott.
From the Eros and Psyche series (111) by Joanna Margaret Paul
Two untitled corrugated iron sculptures by Jeff Thomson
(foreground) New Space / Takawaenga (2020) re-purposed wooden table (dia. 118cm), 4 table legs (H: 46cm), vinyl flooring, 3mm acrylic sheets (83 x 83cm), glass chess board (38 x 38cm), ceramic tile (20 x 20cm), composite board (dia. 65cm), jute, LED lights by Ursula Christel.
New Space / Takawaenga is a conceptual assemblage inspired by geometry and the floor plan of the Dome of the Rock. It refers also to a quote by George Dei (2006) – “Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.”
Takawaenga is a process.
– Ursula Christel, 2020

Left to Right: Wave (detail), custom-made water tank by Jeff Thomson Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level (2018) by Ursula Christel. Courtesy the artist and Mokopōpaki Acrylic, gesso, printed perspex, metal lugs, pencil, sealant on board (99 x 61cm), plastic spirit level (6 x 61cm). Gavin Chilcott Pilgrimage to Mecca Framed pastel on paper. Arabic text above reads: "first house (avvala baytin)"

Left to Right: Wave (detail), custom-made water tank by Jeff Thomson
Vitruvian Angel Man with Spirit Level (2018) by Ursula Christel. Courtesy the artist and Mokopōpaki Acrylic, gesso, printed perspex, metal lugs, pencil, sealant on board (99 x 61cm), plastic spirit level
(6 x 61cm). Gavin Chilcott Pilgrimage to Mecca Framed pastel on paper.
Arabic text above reads: “first house (avvala baytin)” A4 text below this begins with:
“Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for humanity was that at Makkah
– blessed and a guidance for the worlds”. The Qur’an, 3:96

This is one of 5 texts in Arabic arranged around the first gallery.
More about these texts and the works in the next blog.

“Haykal Al Noor” (Bodies of Light) by Narjis Mirza

still: “Haykal Al Noor” (Bodies of Light), site specific video installation by Narjis Mirza
with the soundscape, “Pamor” by Jessika Kenney
in this short video on youtube which also shows these works:
“Light District,” framed canvas, LED lighting, by John Mulholland;
“Halg” (Throat) video from the series Sokout/Silence, by Azadeh Emadi;
“Ka aroha” (Love), gouache and ink on paper,
by Salama McNamara & Emma Paton;
“Auckland Flowers 15/03/2019,” dried flowers, soil, compost, brown paper, by Java Bentley;
“Love is Blind,” embossed braille on paper,
by Tash Nikora;
“Fabric of Humanity” cast glass with impressions of a hijab pattern based on the hijab worn by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in 2019 by Layla Walter;
“Fifty-one” an installation incorporating an assemblage of painted stacked cards and texts from Rumi by Michelle Mayn.

artists
Adibah Saad, Wellington
Azadeh Emadi, Iran / Auckland / Glasgow, Scotland
Brenda Liddiard, Auckland,
Carolyn Lye, Karetu, The Far North,
Christina Wirihana, Bay of Plenty
Emma Paton, Auckland
Fiona Lee Graham, Auckland
Gavin Chilcott, Wellington
Java Bentley, Auckland
Jeff Thomson, Helensville
Jessika Kenney, Los Angeles, U.S.
Joanna Margaret Paul, Whanganui
John Mulholland, Warkworth
Layla Walter, Auckland
Lipika Sen, Auckland
Michelle Mayn, Auckland,
Narjis Mirza, Sydney, Australia
Phil Dadson, Auckland,
Tash Nikora, Whangārei
Salama Moata McNamara, Auckland
Sen McGlinn, Kawakawa
Sonja van Kerkhoff, Kawakawa | The Hague, The Netherlands
Tash Nikora, Whangārei
Ursula Christel (Mokopōpaki), Warkworth

Some photos of the exhibition are here: artsdiary.co.nz

Some thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne exhibition video

12 Apr

still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video

Still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video on youtube.

On March 23rd, three days before this exhibition was due to close, I was informed by the gallery that they have closed the gallery due to the COVID-19 pandemic and I was given permission to film and take photographs before the lockdown date of March 25th.
Still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video

Still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video

In New Zealand things moved very fast. On Saturday evening we all heard news of a 4 step plan where we were at step 2, social distancing. Some libraries and swimming pools had closed on the Friday before. Then on Monday 23rd, when I heard of the gallery closure, we had moved to step 3 and then later in the day it was announced that New Zealand would go into lockdown, step 4, at midnight on Wednesday 25th.

Still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video

Still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video

The poetry reading to be hosted by Piet Nieuwland was cancelled but we met in the gallery (and kept our 2 metre distance from each other) and Piet read, solo. However the sound quality was terrible … and no possibility for another shoot.
Then Craig Denham shared his lockdown morning improvisations amongst his friends, and so we have day 4 as the soundtrack for this 12 minute video.

Still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video

Still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video


Forced into lockdown, like Craig, I have found these weeks thought provoking – two exhibitions I co-curated are in lockdown and two other exhibitions planned for 2020 are cancelled, yet this is nothing compared to the threat of losing one’s life or livelihood.

Still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video

Still from the Manners of Speaking – Te Pūkoro o Tāne, Whangarei show under lockdown, 2020 12 minute video

I must go and publish the video here on youtube and then I will return to another blog later. In the meantime here is a link to a blog I wrote for a Dutch Arts Review website “CONNECTING ART IN A TIME OF CRISIS: New Zealand –The Netherlands.”