Aaron Scythe (b. 1971)
What I make I feel comes from me…
When you look around at everything…
There is beautiful design everywhere…
Yet it is made in a factory, often without thoughts of…
Nothing left of the human soul…
Completely dehumanised soulless beauty…
Like talking to a wall waiting for an answer… nothing.
Yes, what I make I feel comes from me…
Designed yet often not thought out.
Fingerprints, imperfect forms, distortion, soul.
A human expression…
Tāmaki Makaurau-born Aaron Scythe spent 16 years studying ceramic traditions and making in Japan. Scythe’s practice is influenced by the Momoyama (1568-1715) period of ceramic-making. Tea ceremony bowl wares have form and function and also offer aesthetic points for enjoyment and contemplation. Artworks purposed with symbolism, text and modernist imagery also affirm the technical and philosophical thinking of master practitioners and Japanese avant-garde ceramic artists. Scythe returned to Aotearoa in 2011 following the Fukushima disaster.
Arielle Walker (b. 1993)
Familial stories and textile traditions passed down the generations sit behind Arielle Walker’s kaupapa and material form. At the centre of her artwork is Taranaki maunga and landscape, native and introduced flora and fauna. Her images are shaped and formed by textile techniques and expertly placed stitches to produce a visual narrative for close examination. The work comprises drawn-thread (embroidery) and pulled-thread techniques, and the whatu (twined-thread) traditions of Māori. The artist’s materials are cotton and silk embroidery thread, wool yarn dyed with tānekaha bark, and yam-dyed silk thread. Walker gained specialised skills while on art residencies in Scotland and northwest Iceland and from studying her grandmothers’ embroidery sampler and lacework collection, of which Walker is the custodian. The Level 4 lockdown in Aotearoa in 2020 provided the impulse to draw and stitch imagery onto a woven fabric for A Very Different World. Walker’s textile is a foundation for storytelling and mapping literal and metaphoric distances of her heart and mind; with this work she connects people and place, one stitch at a time.
Arielle Walker (Taranaki, Ngāruahine, Ngāpuhi, Pākehā) stitches coloured thread on textiles to portray ideas of identity and cultural belonging. Her embroidered botanicals and stitch samplers are tactile stories that show where tradition and contemporary history narratives intersect. Textile traditions passed down through generations help Walker build familiarity and knowledge of a matriarchal lineal tradition. Walker is based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and obtained her Master of Visual Arts from Auckland University of Technology.
Dion Hitchens (b. 1973)
Te Haa The Breath. The mind follows the breath.
When anxious, stressed, angry or in fear, remember the mind follows the breath.
A slow breath will calm your mind.
Focus on your breath will bring you to the now.
No wondering about the past or pondering the future.
Hongi. A Maaori sharing of breath.
Share in a moment of life with another.
Contemplate atua breathing.
Observe the different rates and rhythms.
The profound effects they have on our existence.
Tangaroa breaths on the ebb of the tide.
His breath is shaped by the moon.
Taane’s breath is heard.
A song that exhales with the sun’s rhythm.
Raa’s light produces warmth and oxygen.
Te Kore, Te Poo, Te Ao Marama.
Each day brings new potential, a zest for life.
What will you enjoy today?
Will you share the joy with others?
A life shared is a life lived.
Dion Hitchens is Tūhoe and Ngāti Porou, Chinese and European. Commitment to a spiritual meditation practice is a daily routine and a pathway to realise human and mental oneness. Hitchens’ art practice is patterned after the Buddhist discipline of slow breathing to calm the mind and focus on nothingness. Sculptural installation can be a medium to communicate mindfulness. The rhythms of land, ocean, human breathing and the natural world are places to maintain nonbeing. Learning is a lifetime goal.
Elliot Collins (b. 1983)
An inward, reflective examination is at the heart of Elliot Collins’ postcards series I Hope This Finds You. Comprised of seven postcards with striking images and heartfelt text, the artist contemplates the borders of his introspection and self-knowledge. Land and seascape, flora and fauna photographs are paired with poetic instruction and captions that capture the moment the artist formed the idea for an image and the thoughts that crossed his mind. Perhaps Collins’ words have been calling to him for some time.
The Thought Of You In A Very Different World / Change the World Gently, Or Not At All. Mend The Tears, Attach The Buttons. Heads Up. Hearts Buried, Warm In Your Chest / Ancient Breath Runs Through My Veins From A Time Before When The Earth Was Kind / Before You Go. Close Your Eyes, Drop Your Shoulders, Breathe Deep And Slow / A Moment Of Silence Held In A Deep Ocean Trench / From Where I am To Where You Are. An Open Palm, An Outstretched Arm, A Moment Of Confluence / This Is A Song About Sorrow Written By Strangers That Brings You To Tears.
Elliot Collins has an interdisciplinary praxis. Interventions in art museums and the community are a means to place thoughts and images that navigate and journey through history and memory, which can circle back to the present moment. Collins’ art references poetry and language, real and imagined boundaries, and access to human knowledge. Stories that share wisdom and teach how to live a better life are how the artist addresses vulnerability and informed replies to social conditioning. Collins lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
Emily Parr (b. 1992)
Emily Parr (Ngāi Te Rangi, Moana, Pākehā) is an artist living in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Weaving stories with moving images, her practice explores relationships between people, political frameworks, whenua and moana. She is also a member of Accompany, an artists’ collective who walk and work alongside community organisations and social movements.
Hiria Anderson (b. 1974)
Hiria Anderson paints pictures of her close surroundings in Ōtorohanga. Anderson has made a genre of reflecting social ecologies in a region with a strong history of Māori occupation, growth and 20th-century political efficacy. The artist poignantly depicts a placed-based state of affairs showing well-used environments poised in graceful decline yet defying regret. It is all in detail! Empty painted marae seats, a chalk menu board, oven cloths, a steel knife-sharpening tool, shelves of crockery, random items left on a bench, a gas cooker that has replaced cooking on an open fire.
On the surface, Anderson’s paintings belie the thriving activities of people and community found inside Māori bastions of arts and culture such as the pā. Her large, provocative pictures advertising kai Māori (food items) for sale are no longer staples on the Māori dinner menu. On the other hand, her art practice celebrates childhood memories and contains firsthand experience of the resilience of her tribal people. Anderson’s perspective concedes that ancestral knowledge passes in plain view. Ironically, the artist relies on 21st-century iPhone technology to capture photographs that she later works up as paintings. The social environments in Anderson’s pictures are a powerful reminder of a not-too-distant past.
Hiria Anderson (Rereahu, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Apakura) was raised in her grandparents’ home in Ōtorohanga, where she lives. Geography, politics and familial histories are central to the artist’s practice and thinking. Big narratives on small paintings portray the certainty of change and the spectacle of cultural continuity, with representations signifying the mundane ideas of home and belonging in the 21st century. Commonplace in her paintings are community politics seen through the lens of first-hand experience and a place-based worldview.
Jaimie Waititi (b. 1990)
Jaimie Waititi (Te Whānau ā Apanui, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) is a gender-fluid multidisciplinary artist whose practice focuses on relationships between people, mea, space and time. Waititi graduated from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design in 2014, and is a member of SaVAge K’Lub, issheboys, Th3 Order and FAFSWAG, the interdisciplinary arts collective who were awarded an Arts Laureate in 2020.
Jasmine Tuiā (b. 1997)
Jasmine Tuiā examines Moana concepts and practices in relation to Indigenous Samoan narratives through the mediums of print, photography, moving image and tapa (siapo). In 2019, Tuiā completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland, where she is currently undertaking her master’s. With Ashleigh Taupaki she formed the artist duo VVAI, which has work in the RM Women’s Moving Image Archive. Recent exhibitions include WTF: Where You From (2020), Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, and Hauraki/Matautu Lefaga (2020), Window Gallery.
Jordan Snyder (b. 1991)
Jordan Snyder is a new media artist and filmmaker currently based out of Toronto, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Integrated Media from the Ontario College of Art and Design University. She is of Dené and mixed-race descent. Snyder is interested in investigating how psychology presents itself in popular culture, as well as the impact of cosmologies on social organisation.
Kent Monkman (b. 1965)
Casualties of Modernity is a short film that critiques modern and contemporary art in a modern hospital triage setting. The two art historical movements are romantically dramatised through sympathy and disbelief. The ‘conditions’ affecting modern and contemporary art are diagnosed and treated in the film’s narrative. The lead character, Miss Chief, is a celebrity artist, socialite and patron of the arts. Miss Chief visits the sick and infirmed with A Doctor of Fine Arts specialist, using her influence and compassion to understand modernity’s casualties. Prominent among these casualties are Picasso primitivism (a debated feature of 20th-century art), performance art, conceptual art practice, and the male nude, all popular art history subjects. The hospital’s modern wing delivers comprehensive critical and intensive care to sufferers of weak and dying art traditions. Monkman comments on art history to describe the politics of marginalisation. Miss Chief Eagle Testickle lends her own compassion and camp to the story.
Kent Monkman is an interdisciplinary Cree visual artist. A member of Fisher River Cree Nation in Treaty 5 territory (Manitoba), he lives and works in Dish With One Spoon territory (Toronto, Canada). Known for his provocative interventions into Western European and American art history, Monkman explores themes of colonisation, sexuality, loss and resilience – the complexities of historical and contemporary Indigenous experiences – across painting, film/video, performance and installation. Monkman’s short film and video works are collaboratively made with Gisèle Gordon.
Kereama Hohua (b. 1977)
Hoki Whenua Mai is a figurative form with a long torso carved from mataī and painted with kōkōwai pigments. The sculpture embodies the essence of Papatūānuku, the female Māori earth mother deity. It is said that all of humanity originates from Papatūānuku or, in the artist’s case, from the mist-maiden ancestor Hinepūkohurangi. The ochre-filled haehae marks on the body refer to a kahu kurī (dog-skin cloak), a cloak prized by Māori ancestors. The lower part of the sculpture uses the kaperua carving pattern, signifying the bottomless pit whence all life comes forth and the place to which we return at death.
In the artist’s words: “My mother was the midwife for the Tūhoe people between the 1970s and the 90s. Her mother was a weaver. This enabled me to see through the relational layers of whenua. This word means the land and is also the human umbilical cord. Hoki Whenua Mai has two meanings. To return the land or to return to the land. This work is a commentary about the shared elemental connections between Papatūānuku and Hinepūkohurangi (The Mist Maiden). The karanga (call) is to return home to ‘cleanse’ and face tomorrow’s challenges.”
Kereama Hohua’s carving practice is dedicated to Tūhoe culture, identity, and social change. An apprenticeship with and mentoring by master carver Te Hau o te Rangi Tutua and historian and academic Sir Hirini Moko Mead led to Hohua working with a team of experts to restore the Ngāti Awa ancestral house Mataatua, located at Whakatāne. Hohua’s art practice balances customary and contemporary carving, housebuilding, sculpture and body adornment. He lives and works in Rūātoki.
Lisa Boivin (b. 1970)
The artist’s brother’s death started the photo-collage art practice of First Nations Dene maker Lisa Boivin. Boivin’s creative process involved piecing together imagery that reflected her grief and broken heart. Since her brother’s death, she has continued making dynamic photo-collages to portray the strengthening teachings of community elders. First Nations knowledge systems and worldviews offer wellbeing for the body, mind and spirit. Dene cultural medicine practices are centred on meaningful relationships with the natural world, flora and fauna. Ancestral teachings embody self-knowledge and awareness of the world around us. A bioethicist by training, Boivin uses her art practice to help physicians build meaningful relationships with First Nations patients before and since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lisa Boivin is a member of the Deninu Kue First Nation in Northwest Territories, Canada. She is a bioethicist and a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. Boivin uses digital collage as a pedagogical tool to confront colonial barriers that Indigenous patients navigate in the healthcare system and offers Indigenous teachings to resolve them. To help humanise clinical medicine, the artist situates her arts-based practice in the Indigenous continuum of passing knowledge through images.
Maraea Timutimu (b. 1979)
A trained teacher and artist, Timutimu conceived the idea for her three billboards at Parnell train station during Aotearoa’s Level 4 lockdown. The artist was moved by the concept of an internal and external ‘stillness’, and deep-dived to understand silence, quietness and immobility in Aotearoa. Charting the spectrum of interruption to relationships with whānau and friends was also an exercise in confronting changed realities in an altered world.
This moment for the artist was also a significant disruption to how Timutimu perceived whakapapa ties, which needed repair after each lockdown. Faced with zero options to visit whānau, familial places and friends, life was reset through iMessage, Zoom zui, Facebook and other forms of social media. Where the Ultimate Reality Can be Found artworks belong to the artist’s story of separation and disconnect. More broadly, the idea can be linked to humanity reaching out to each other through technology.
Maraea Timutimu (Tūhoe, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāiterangi) is a multidisciplinary artist who locates her art practice in pattern-making and meaning-making in the digital era. Rāranga, tukutuku and tāniko are the leitmotif of Māori designs found in cultural meeting houses. The repetitive placements of line, colour and texture also convey symbolic
understandings of the natural world. Repetition is part of Timutimu’s teaching philosophy and photography practice, used to produce a medley of visual references.
Reuben Paterson (b. 1973)
Paterson’s glitter paintings are from the 2017 series Black Matter. Works from this series are the artist’s contribution to the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality directed toward black people in the United States. On the world stage, Black Lives Matter evoked some tension. Yet, the paintings and the BLM campaign also meet a human response to unprecedented change through COVID-19 lockdowns in the exhibition setting.
Tensions, anxieties and pressures in Paterson’s painting are invoked with images of firework displays associated with New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year – large celebratory cultural events, represented with flashes of colour and light, that fade into black. The artist’s LGBTQ+ perspective on sexuality also appears, with provocative titles for works such as The Best Orgasm of Your Life. How might we search for a new normal while also negotiating how to live with constant change and an epidemic of monumental proportions? The artist takes steps into this intersection with glitter-painted sculptures of two distinct deities. Guan Yin is celebrated in the East, St Francis of Assisi is an icon of the West, and both holy beings are emblems for reverence and compassion. In this way, kind-heartedness, empathy, care and concern lie beneath Paterson’s glitter sculptures and paintings.
Reuben Paterson (Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Tūhourangi, Scottish) is renowned for glitter and diamond dust paintings. Paterson combines formal approaches to painting abstract and geometric lines and ornate detailing of patterns to stimulate curiosity and joy. Paterson’s use of Māori-inspired motifs links to recent and ancient memories that are visceral and ethereal. A third-generation contemporary Māori artist, he redefines and explores the complexities of social and familial relationships.
Russ Flatt (b. 1971)
With a practice rooted deeply in experience and the memory of his childhood in Aotearoa, Flatt shows his home-based standpoints, which are political and international, local and universal. The human family and whanaungatanga often direct the artist to make emotionally charged narratives and settings. The large-scale wallpaper artwork He Taonga Te Tamaiti is a hospital tableau showing an infant’s imminent uplifting from a Māori mother. A male policeman stands in the background, with an authoritarian female figure, hand outstretched, standing at the end of the bed. This work responds to the damning review of Oranga Tamariki practices and state abuses of Māori women, whānau and children by a government agency meant to protect children and Māori wellbeing.
The artist’s flag installation project at the New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui a Tangaroa gives importance to the power of love. Titled Destination Aroha, the flags are also emblems of optimism: love for a beloved, for whānau, for the community, humankind, for our oceans, land and sky. Pictured on Flatt’s flags are local, international and universal symbols that convey the idea that we are more than the sum of our race, sexuality, gender and heritage. Four of the eight flags spell out the exhibit’s title. In the New Zealand Maritime Museum context, signal flags might be spelling out a message to communicate to other ships. The message is: Love is love!
Russ Flatt (Ngāti Kahungunu) makes staged photographs to create an environment to express and communicate an awareness of contemporary issues. Flatt’s careful and specific choice to work with models is a way to address identity and contemplate Aotearoa’s political realities, social constructs and ethnic diversity. The artist’s approach is situated in Victorian photography in the use of striking scenic backdrops, portraiture and photomontages and the examination of political themes. Flatt lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka (b. 1972)
Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka (Ngāti Pākau, Ngāpuhi, Waitaha) is a multi-media artist living and working in Aotearoa. She has been developing her research and practice for the past 18 years. Māori ancestral knowledge inspires and drives her work on a daily basis; concepts such as kaitiakitanga (stewardship), atuatanga (the gods), māramatanga (enlightenment), and manākitanga (respect) permeate and flow through her work. Ruka creates immersive film, video and sound installations, building a connection to landscape and our environment.
Verna Apio-Takashima (b. 1947)
Apio-Takashima is a leading kapa (barkcloth textile) practitioner from ‘Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. Kapa-making is in her whakapapa – she is a fifth-generation maker, teacher and natural dye expert. Mauna Kea is a kapa-moe (sleeping blanket) comprised of a decorated bedsheet called a kilohana. Two dyed under-sheets are stitched to the decorated sheet to complete a kapa moe. Hawaiian kapa is unlike tapa from the Pacific region: Hawaiian kapa is fermented, beaten and watermarked before being stamped with ohe kapala (bamboo stamps) and dyed.
The title Mauna Kea refers to holding reverence for a peace movement staged on Mauna Kea mountain since 2018. The mountain is the tallest peak in Hawai‘i and the proposed site of an enormous observatory at the summit, 13,796 feet above sea level. The protest site was harsh, with cold winds whipping across hardened lava fields. Despite the inhospitable environment, demonstrations gave rise to a sense of permanence and inspired Apio-Takashima’s work.
The artist experienced the unity of the Hawaiian people and their supporters against a new Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) proposed for Mauna Kea. While visiting the ahu (shrine) at the site, the artist had the vision to picture her experience through a kapa-moe. Equally inspiring was a kupuna (elders) group sitting at Mauna Kea’s entrance, conducting daily prayers and dance to express objection and disavow the abuse of indigenous sacred spaces in the natural world. The result is a hopeful way to voice protest.
O‘ahu-based cultural practitioner Verna Apio-Takashima is a fifth-generation lineal descendant of 19th-century Hawaiian kapa (barkcloth) experts. Apio-Takashima embarked on kapa-making in 2005, creating barkcloth in the Hawaiian tradition. Beaten, fermented and watermarked cloths are stamped and painted with natural dyes. Demonstrations are a hallmark of the artist’s practice, most notably at Bishop Museum, the National Museum of the American Museum in Washington DC, and at the 2016 PAA International Symposium at Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
Visesio Siasau (b. 1970)
Mānava‘ ofa – breath of compassion are two sculptures, but one work of art. Both statues are carved wood forms with Perspex flora. The upright piece represents an embryonic human form with a noni tree growing out of its umbilical cord. The form laying on its back is a Tongan goddess. She is in a death position, with a kava plant coming out of her body. Noni is a traditional medicine and dye plant used throughout the Pacific region. Kava is also a medicinal plant of Pacific peoples, used in formal ceremonies and informal exchanges. Kava is taken as a drink made from the roots of the kava plant.
Mānava‘ refers to breathing but is also a womb. Siasau’s work expresses Mānava‘ ofa as a source of compassion related to the pantheon of Tongan deities and Fanau Tama’s knowledge – procreation and Fehokohoko‘i. In this space, life forms are conceived, and life principles are created. Mānava‘ ofa is a quest to re-evaluate artificial principles of humanity through the practice of Mānava‘ ofa, from fanau‘i or birth to mate or death.
Hereditary tūfunga Visesio Poasi Siasau is a carver, painter and community collaborator. Siasau’s art practice can surface as patterning; his narrative works are political and social commentaries that convey his Tongan worldview on mind, body and spirit. Modernity and Christianity’s impact in Tonga and Tongan philosophy are features of the artist’s praxis. Sio’s art practice is positioned to perpetuate Tongan thinking and relationality between place and people. Siasau is a doctoral candidate at EA Hawai‘i, O‘ahu.
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