Art & Architecture
Art New Zealand

Art New Zealand

Spring 2020

New Zealand’s most respected and widely-read visual arts magazine, Art New Zealand presents an independent quarterly round-up of the visual arts in New Zealand, by the country’s best art writers.

New Zealand
Art New Zealand 2009 Ltd
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4 Issues

in this issue

24 min.

Auckland Ko ratou, ko tatou—On otherness, us-ness Northart, 22 May–12 JuneSHAMIMA LONE Ko ratou, ko tatou—On other-ness, usness, an exhibition that pays homage to the New Zealand Muslim community, was set to open on the anniversary of the Christchurch mosque shootings. But then lockdown happened. When Northart reopened, I attended the show. The majority of artwork featured Islamic elements, depicted from the outside. The central perspective was overwhelmingly white and, rather than feeling represented, I felt othered. The exhibition’s opening room displayed an earnest mishmash of otherness. Islamic subject matter was at the centre of Gavin Chilcott’s Pilgrimage to Mecca depicting the Ka’bah, a structure towards which all Muslims face when praying. Jeff Thomson’s Wake, a corrugated-iron water tank with jagged holes in the sides, powerfully explored the idea of containment and the residue that…

21 min.
leaves from the of iron

Jeff Thomson has so much old roofing iron and metal in his Helensville workshop/studio/warehouse that, a few years back, he was accused by local residents of interrupting the television reception in the area. The size of a small stadium, his iron-clad workshop has the feeling of a strangely altered depot or transfer station. Not only does it contain a very significant ‘library’ of old iron (awaiting future projects) but also a vast array of completed, abandoned, resumed and partially made sculptures. In the midst of this ferment, the artist’s living quarters are an internal annex. We met there on a blustery, grey morning, 8 July 2020. Possibly on account of electro-magnetic factors hinted at above, the 25-year-old Sony cassette recorder enlisted for the purpose of the interview malfunctioned and, as I…

8 min.
gothic revival

With her new exhibition Inheritance, Hannah Kidd’s practice has evolved from primarily depicting animals, often in a light-hearted and accessible way, to a concern with objects that carry the weight of the past. This new direction was inspired by an increasing number of inherited objects entering her own home in recent times. Yet the overriding question inherent to her work persists: how do we as humans relate to the environment around us? Using her signature style of welding flattened pieces of corrugated iron onto a framework of metal rods, Kidd’s newest creations extend her ecocritical approach into a more controversial realm: one that explicitly engages with New Zealand’s colonial past. This is primarily achieved by contrasting colonial antiques such as candelabras, bone china tea sets and vases with mokomokai (Maori tattooed…

9 min.
& words

By identifying as a Samoan artist, Fatu Feu’u has helped secure his position as a leading figure in Pacific art. He has acquired chiefly status in his home village, honours and major commissions; yet, the price he has paid is that he is not ranked as highly in the New Zealand art hierarchy as a number of lesser achievers, even though he has lived much of his active career in our country. As he has remarked, in New Zealand there is European art, Maori art and Pacific art, with Pacific art being the smallest in number and least important, as well as poorly represented in major public collections. Samoan art is also linked in some minds to tourist art, decorative and colourful items ornamented with a limited range of motifs…

9 min.
tubular constructions

At 80 years old and with a distinguished artistic career now stretching to more than six decades behind him, Mervyn Williams has boldly entered a new phase of development with Late Harvest, an exhibition of sculptures, along with selected earlier works in two dimensions (including paintings and prints). The Jonathan Grant Gallery is showing paintings and prints while the sculptures—a mixture of freestanding and wall pieces—are presented at Artis Gallery. The focus in this essay is on the new work in three dimensions. While most of the sculptures were made in the last two or three years it would be inaccurate to describe these as the first works by Williams in three dimensions; indeed one bronze included (Chatterbox) is dated 2011. As far back as 1988–89 he had experimented with three-dimensional works…

6 min.
celestial portraits

‘The Maori people have, by virtue of long residence in a temperate climate, diverged considerably from the other branches of the Polynesian Race in their arts and crafts,’ wrote anthropologist, museum director and politician Sir Te Rangi Hiroa in his 1923 paper ‘The Evolution of Maori Clothing’. ‘This divergence is particularly marked in the manufacture of clothing, for the Maori has evolved a variety of garments which are peculiar to New Zealand. A different environment with different material stimulated entirely new inventions or led to the adaptation of a known technique to new requirements or a combination of both.’1 The most significant difference that Te Rangi Hiroa identifies between Maori and other Polynesian textile histories is the lack of a sustained tapa-making tradition in Aotearoa. Tapa, which is also known…