Tag Archives: sculpture

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.

Quake & SCAPE – Christchurch 2011

13 Apr

The number sequence 043504092010 (the hour, minute (04:35), day, month and year of the 4 September 2010 earthquake) first changed the landscape of Christchurch and caused the postponement of the Public Sculpture biennial, SCAPE (photos of some public art projects are here).
This t-shirt design was produced just before the major aftershock on February 22nd by SCAPE artist participant Anton Parsons for the opening of the 6th SCAPE Christchurch Biennial which was planned for March 2010. It was then canceled and now SCAPE is selling this t-shirt as a recovery fund venture.

"Nucleus" by  Phil Price (2006) Photographer: Dean MacKenzie Commissioned for SCAPE 2006 © SCAPE Christchurch Biennial"Nucleus" by Phil Price (2006)
Photographer: Dean MacKenzie Commissioned for SCAPE 2006 © SCAPE Christchurch Biennial

Some of the sculptures completed before the February aftershock are still standing. And I was amazed, when I saw footage of the disaster back in February to see one of my favourite inner city sculptures (the four inner parts move constantly like a wind chime, see this YouTube clip) was still standing and operating surrounded by rubble and collapsed buildings, a symbol not only of survival but of the magic of art.

And on that note I was swept off my feet by this song written by Ryan Fisherman, a Christchurch resident about his city and the quake. The undertone of calm is unnerving and moving, much like the image of the gentle slow movements of the red kinetic sculpture while all around the land shakes and shudders.

Country quake (song + video) by Ryan Fisherman