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Spirit, people power, nature power – Wairua, Mana Tangata, Mana Whenua

31 May

10 April – 1 June 2015 0420_2000jess-se-lisaTop Left to Right: Detail of Wairua 2, oil paint/mixed media on canvas, by Keri Molly; Homage, oil on canvas, by Lynn Pirrie Smith; Pou Wairua woven flax + copper panel by Jess Paraone; Several Seas, photographic print on transparency by Sen McGlinn; Long Boat, mild steel by Peter Brammer; Puddle, Pigment print on cotton rag by Lisa Clunie; I want to be reborn, acrylic & oil stick on canvas by Simon Kerr; Prana, Pigment print on cotton rag by Lisa Clunie.

Whenua refers to the link between us and life or the life spirit, which sometimes refers to the land or the natural world. Curated by Piripi Ball + Laurell Pratt this exhibition theme of the spirit as the power of humanity and the power of the natural is expressed in sculpture, carving, weaving, paintings, photographic, installations and craft and design. Piripi’s remit for this show was to encourage artists to approach this theme from the materiality as much as from an abstracted stance and he was successful in getting work from a huge diversity of artistic approaches.
0418_1925te-kuiti-bev
Left to Right: Tewhate-wha – Taonga tuku iho aa Tawhaki / Jeweled Heirloom of Tawhaki, maire, deer antler by Te Kuiti Stewart; Tiki-wananga – Matauranga Aariki / Knowledge of Progenies, kauri, koa, silko, feathers, paua by Te Kuiti Stewart; Where Two Waters Meet, acrylic & gesso on canvas, by Bev Wilson; Detail of a photograph by John McMullen.

0418_1925-hughLeft to Right: Detail: Where Two Waters Meet, acrylic & gesso on canvas, by Bev Wilson; Mauri, silver gelatin print by John McMullen; Rosary, oil on canvas by Hugh Major; Passion 3, mixed media on board by Brenda Liddiard; Koraro Totem, flax flower heads, pumice, copper wire by Carolyn Lye; Howling in the Night, plywood, indian ink, wire by Natascha Rodenburg; Four Strands, plaited bull kelp with harakeke tie by Carolyn Lye.

0420_2001d_bevisLeft to Right: Detail of Nga Kete O Te Wananga (The 3 baskets of Knowledge), digital photographic print on eco-ethical wallpaper by Sheree Edwards; Emergence, carved slate, kauri, mother of pearl, bone, by Bevis Hatch;Clearing – Cowboys & indians on the pa site, digital pigment ink print on archival paper by Ellie Smith; Wairua, acrylic on canvas with oil sticks by Lynn Pirrie Smith; Whare Ihu, puriri and totata, oil paint and aluminium by Aaron Hoskin; Portrait of Ted, photograph on paper by Dr Chris Reid; Portrait of Zena, photograph on paper by Dr Chris Reid;

0418_1926b_julie-al-dorLeft to Right: Round Pit fired pot, stoneware thrown pot, pit fired with wooden horn handle by Julie Cromwell; Untitled (Solar Flare), pigment print on cotton rag by Lisa Clunie; For the love of Stars, feather crosses by Alicia Courtney; Journey Home, screenprint by David Knight; Birdman Series, acrylics/spray paint on wood by Leonard Murupaenga; Pit fired Pot Thrown, stoneware pot, pit fired, copper wire around horn handle by Julie Cromwell; Early Tides – Rawene, silver gelatin print by John McCullum; Hidden, carved oak, sooty mould (fungi), cooper wire, wood, glue, ink by Natascha Rodenburg; Jerusalem Window 1V, mixed media on canvas by Brenda Liddard; Waka, wood-fired, ceramic sculpture by Dorothy Waetford.

The exhibition runs until 1 June 2015,
Kings Theatre, 80 Gillies St, Kawakawa.
Open Wed-Sundays: 10-4. Their facebook page.

Artists in the exhibition
Piripi Ball | Regan Balzer | Gabrielle Belz | Nicholas J Boyd | Peter Brammer | Michelle Chapman | Kiri Clark | Lisa Clunie | Alicia Courtney | Julie Cromwell | Richard Darbyshire | Barry Downs | Davina Duke | Anthony Dunn | Sheree Edwards | Philip John England | Ally Grant | Rhonda Halliday | Shellie Hanley | Nicola Hart | Bevis Hatch | Aaron Hoskin | Leanne Jackson | Tavis Jacques | Darren Keith | Simon Kerr | David Knight | Thomas Lauterbach | Brenda Liddiard | Jo Lumkong | Carolyn Lye | Kirsty Mackenzie | Linda Munn | Hugh Major | Sen McGlinn | Pita McIntireJohn McMullen | Keri Molly | Leonard Murupaenga | Jess Paraone | Lee Ralph | Israel Randall | Karen Reeves | Theresa Reihana | Chris Reid | Natascha Rodenburg | rosy & rich | Carla Ruka | Petera Reid | Kathy Shaw | Ellie Smith | Lynn Pirrie Smith | Nikitta Shine | Barbie Stevenson | Te Kuiti Stewart | Kathy Shaw Urlich | Sonja van Kerkhoff | Dorothy Waetford | Yonel Watene | Karena Way | Lee Ralph and Adam Wharekawa | Bev Wilson | Sasha Wilson | Ann Winship

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Contemporary in Kawakawa

17 Jan
Acrylic on canvas by Theresa Reihana in the Kings Theatre gallery, Kawakawa

Acrylic on canvas by Theresa Reihana in the Kings Theatre gallery, Kawakawa

“Rip, Shit & Bust – a response to invasive mining realities,” is the first exhibition in the recently renovated 1936 Kings Theatre just down from the Hundertwasser public toilets on the main street in Kawakawa in the north of Aotearoa | New Zealand.

detail: Orificia Coffee Table by Sash. Glitter, masks,	LED	lights +  show case plinth.

detail: Orificia Coffee Table, glitter, masks, LED lights + show case plinth, by Sash.

Many of the paintings, prints, ceramics, raranga (flax weaving), carvings, sculpture and installations by the 17 artists relate to the exhibition theme of concern about drilling or mining: heightened naturally, by the recently begun Statoil oil exploration along the Northland coast. “Orificia Coffee Table” by Kaikohe artist Sash is a flashing glitter display case at shin height. The viewer has to adjust their stance and focus before the ‘blue worm’ which threads through the multiple eyes of Papatuanuku (Mother Earth) is recognized. The gentle flashing light works both as warning and metaphor for the flux of the natural world. Masks hide and reveal: here they represent a multi-eyed essence that is open and vulnerable. In Sash’s other work, “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” an oil like ooze in continual flow, cascades over brightly painted and glittered rocks and texts.
Theresa Reihana’s paintings and prints address the theme of the environment in more painterly terms. One of her paintings, pictured above, shows a fracture in the kowhaikowhai pattern above a clock face from a bygone age. The broken up earth below is almost abstract. The three divisions are like three worlds: the future (spiritual, conceptual or material consequences, with a fault line in the pattern of the universe), the present (time undefined) and the past (what has been done to the earth).

Whenua II + I by Theresa Reihana

Detail Left to Right: Whenua II + I by Theresa Reihana, acrylic on plywood.

Each of the “Whenua” works by Theresa Reihana consists of two parts, the large face and a baby in a fetal position. Here “Whenua” is a powerful metaphor for what is missing between the two (in the Māori language whenua means umbilical chord). The gouged and ripped layers in plywood in the ‘earth mother’ indicate something is amiss, while the baby (each of us) floats disconnected.

Fossil Fuel by Gabrielle Belz

Fossil Fuel by Gabrielle Belz, intaglio print on paper, 1 in an edition of one.

The print “Fossil Fuel” by Gabrielle Belz is a playful reminder that resources are finite and part of an ecosystem. Some of her other prints, such as in “Kia Tupato” (Be Careful), have drawings or cartoons on plastic laid on top of the print.

Kia Tupato by Gabrielle Belz

Kia Tupato by Gabrielle Belz

The text in this work reads “Don’t wake Ruamoko,” a reference to the guardian or cause of earthquakes. Her other prints also warn of unnatural disasters as a result of mining or drilling and Bev Wilson’s painting below addresses the same topic.

Acrylic on canvas by Bev Wilson

“There’s a Frac/tion Too Much Friction (as Tim Finn
would say) yeah” acrylic on board, copper-coated nails, by Bev Wilson

Under the mountain red breaks out around fractures and intrusions, like wounds that are irritated.

Raranga by Te Hemoata Henare

Detail: Raranga, woven flax, by Te Hemoata Henare.

Raranga by Te Hemoata Henare consists of two 4 metre woven flax strips. A maro (a traditional apron or loin cloth that covers the pubic area) hangs in the middle flanked first by mountain patterns and then by river-like patterns. For a Māori person, acknowledging your mountain and river always comes before any mention of ancestry, so that identity is symbolically situated in connection with the natural world. The title refers to the technique and medium she has used but it could imply that the land or the natural world – the blank horizon above – is continuous and enduring. In the text about her work she refers to the whakatauākī (proverb), “Whatu ngarongaro te tangata, Toitu te whenua” (People perish but the land remains).

Manaia, acrylic on canvas, by Julien Atkinson

Manaia, acrylic on canvas, by Julien Atkinson

Detail of Manaia by Julien Atkinson

Detail of Manaia by Julien Atkinson

What makes this exhibition curated by Lau’rell Pratt and Theresa Reihana so stimulating is the diversity of media and styles and approaches.
Julien Atkinson’s five large canvases are exquisite, not just because of his fine use of colour and technique but in their fine balance between design, technique and the conceptual. From a conceptual perspective, the manaia, a hybrid guardian of spiritual and material worlds, stands as if about to pounce on us, should we dare to approach. This stunning creature, the manaia, perhaps mythical, or perhaps not if only we had eyes to see, stands there to protect the land. Through the body we can see a horizon – the land this creature is guarding. In terms of design and technique: there is a beautiful play between flat decoration and three dimensional illusion, and Celtic and Maori stylistic features, along with sci-fi or hyper-realism.

Ruru, acrylic on canvas, by Tinike Hohaia

Ruru, acrylic on canvas, by Tinike Hohaia

“Ruru” by Tinike Hohaia, like Julien Atkinson’s paintings, is a celebration of creation combining the decorative with the painterly. Ruru, Māori for a native owl (The morepork, Ninox novaeseelandiae) is associated with the spirit world in Māori mythology. It is believed that if a morepork sits conspicuously nearby or enters a house there will be a death in the family, and so like the manaia, this work could be read as a warning. In some traditions the ancestral spirit of a family group can take the form of an owl, known as Hine-ruru, the ‘owl woman.’ These owl spirits can act as kaitiaki (guardians) with the power to protect, warn and advise.

Over-painting by Nellie Para

Acrylic and photographic print on canvas by Nellie Para

Tinike Hohaia is one of nine artists in this exhibition who were students of Theresa Reihana’s marae noho (live-in workshops in a Māori setting) coordinated through the Northland branch of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (a nationwide Māori educational foundation whose courses range from beginners’ to university level). Some of the artists, such as the kuia (Māori elder) Nellie Para, another of Theresa’s students, are exhibiting for the first time.
Here Nellie Para has appropriated a photograph on canvas of the British actress, humanitarian, and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) by giving her a moko (tattoo), a tīpare (a Māori style headband) and a whakakai (an earring), against a sky that reminds me of psychedelic art. I loved it that an iconic western image from a bygone time has been coloured by a local elder.
Hidden	Destruction	and	 Devastation, acylic on canvas, by Ann Hui

Fore: Hidden Destruction and Devastation, acylic on canvas, by Ann Hui, Orificia Coffee Table, glitter, masks, LED lights + show case plinth, by Sash.
Back: two paintings by Julien Atkinson, three paintings by Bev Wilson, two paintings and two prints by Maarie te Mamaeroa Jane Ruys, and five ceramic objects by Rhonda Halliday.

Whispering Time (II) by Keatly Te Moananui Hopkins

Whispering Time (II), photogravue intaglio, by Keatly Te Moananui Hopkins.

Hinepukohurangi, acrylic on canvas, by Natascha De Swart

Hinepukohurangi, acrylic on canvas, by Natascha De Swart.
Artist statement: “The mist is a blanket for our land and rises as a blanket in our sky for our earth.”

Reading what the artists had written of themselves or their work gave me a sense of the diversity of Northland’s artistic and cultural communities. Many artists introduced themselves via whakapapa (their mountain, river, and tribal connections) followed by something about their work or approach. The format had not been standardized: some wrote of themselves being on a journey, others listed prior shows or galleries, and others provided statements in relation to their particular works.
 
Artists in the exhibition: Julien Atkinson, Gabrielle Belz, Graham ‘Tiny’ Dalton, Natasha De Swart, Rhonda Halliday, Te Hemoata Henare, Tinike Hohaia, Keatly Te Moananui Hopkins, Ann Hui, Keri Molloy, Kahu Reedy, Theresa Reihana, Maarie te Mamaeroa Jane Ruys, Sash, Alby Shortland, Nellie Para, Bev Wilson

The exhibition runs until January 20th 2015,
Kings Theatre, 80 Gillies St, Kawakawa.
Open daily: 10-4. Their facebook page.