The Fisher Gallery’s new exhibition Marien Platz Pacifica, on from the 7th of August to the 10th of September, features the work of two artists from opposite sides of the Pacific. Contemporary Maori artist John Bevan Ford and North American artist Rick Bartow met in New Zealand and have continued to exchange ideas and work together when possible.
Works on paper, as well as textiles and sculptures in wood, by John Bevan Ford form a major part of the exhibition. Much of his work in the exhibition was developed at Rick Bartow’s Oregon studio following a stay in Munich. The title of the exhibition, Marien Platz Pacifica, refers to a journey that Ford took in early 1999 traveling from Europe to the USA, and back to his home in Aotearoa New Zealand. Elements from each of the places come together in the series works which he has titled Tanika Border. John Bevan Ford’s finely drawn coloured ink drawings and wood carvings make strong reference to Maori traditions, including Tanika weaving, as well as the patterns found in traditional Maori carvings.
American artist Rick Bartow’s work draws on his experiences as a resident of Oregon in the USA, and his Native American heritage. His work uses dreamlike imagery, often incorporating birds and animals native to North America, which often act as ‘symbols having multiple meanings’. Marien Platz Pacifica includes a carpet worked on by both of the artists at Dilana Studios in Christchurch earlier this year, as well as carpet works from each individual artist.
Candy Elsmore, Director of the Fisher Gallery, says ‘the exhibition is an exciting combination of the work of two well-known indigenous artists. The work of each of the artists. although they are from different backgrounds and countries, share common ground in the use of symbols and forms from their respective cultural backgrounds.’
→ Marien Platz Pacifica, 1999, exhibition card