Te Pō is the result of a six-month period in 2021, when six artists came together at Te Tuhi’s project space Papatūnga, located in the heritage building at Parnell Train Station. Spending time in each other’s company, during a period when separation had become a global and local norm, the artists considered what it meant to make art in a particular place and time. During this time, the artists and curator learnt about the local Māori histories of Parnell, participated in various hui and wānanga on critical and collaborative practices and spent a weekend noho away in curator James Tapsell-Kururangi’s home of Rotorua.
Wrapping around the walls of the gallery is Abigail Aroha Jensen’s The Lamentation of Ruataupare (2021), a map of delicate mark-making in Indian ink accompanied by a recording of oro, or sounds, taken from the platform of the Parnell Train Station where the work was made, from the surrounding area and from the artist’s home in Kirikiriroa Hamilton. This envelops two paintings by Tira Walsh that hang in the centre of the gallery, Ripples of Time and Stranded (both 2021), which combine influences from Walsh’s time spent during her residency at the Karekare House with a pūrakau, or story, about the creation of Parnell told to the artists involved in Te Pō by local artist Pita Turei.
On the floor of the gallery sit works by Gabi Lardies and Katie Middleton; Lardies, who usually works with publications, was drawn to materialising objects for her contribution to Te Pō, creating a series of clay tiles made from impressions of the gallery’s tin ceiling. Middleton’s coil baskets Pūngarungaru Who Looks Kind of Like a Dog Bowl and Mā Tātou Tēnei Kete (This Basket is For Us) (both 2021) are woven from elements of the local ngāhere, or bush, and draw from techniques taught to her by Dante Bonica, tohunga mahi toi, and Roquin Quichocho Siongco.
Facing one another on the walls of the gallery are artworks by Tom Tuke and Wai Ching Chan. Tuke, who produces the self-published arts broadsheet The Java Script, presents Tutto il Rosa della Vita (2021), a series of drawings made from scrap paper collected from the artists’ collaborative exercises in the lead up to Te Pō. Chan’s existing work To my dearest sun, moon and star (2021) is woven from brightly coloured scraps of yarn, wool and cotton and draws from her practice of knotting fibres as a way of reinforcing the connections between tauiwi and tangata whenua in Aotearoa.
→ List of works
About the artists
Abigail Aroha Jensen
Abigail Aroha Jensen (Ngāti Porou through Te Whānau-a-Tūwhakairiora and Te Whānau-a-Ruataupare; Ngāi Tāmanuhiri through Rangiwaho; Crow and Steele clan, County Antrim) is an artist who places herself within her whakapapa by responding to space with oro, painting and installation. Previous exhibitions in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland include Occupied territories at RM gallery with Avigail Allan and Naomi Allan; Manawa i te Kāniwha, a mural produced in collaboration with George Watson for Artspace Aotearoa; and Pūtahitanga Kura, an artwork produced by Jensen and Watson for The Lightship, a digital light wall along Bledisloe Wharf.
Gabi Lardies is a 1.5 generation tauiwi who moved to Aotearoa New Zealand from Argentina about 23 years ago. Recently she has been concerned with belonging and engagement in place for non-indigenous people, and histories of migration. Usually she works with text, publication and printed matter, but for this show was drawn to materialising objects rather than articulating words.
Katie Middleton is a Scottish and Irish tangata tiriti artist raised in Ōtautahi Christchurch and based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Under the kaitiakitanga of Dante Bonica, she works with materials indigenous to Aotearoa and is influenced by mātauranga and tikanga Māori. These woven works are based on the coil basket technique taught to her by Roquin Quichocho Siongco. The materials are all sourced from the Waipapa area and include harakeke, kiekie, tī kōuka and small amounts of pīngao.
Tira Walsh (Ngāti Wairere, Ngāti Hāua) is a painter who lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. The artworks featured in Te Pō are part of a series she produced while undertaking the Eden Arts Trust Karekare Residency. The paintings derive from the storytelling of the Wāitakere and Hunua Ranges Patupaiarehe.
Tom Tuke is an artist, puppeteer and editor of The Java Script. His work Tutto il Rosa della Vita (2021) uses the scrap paper from the collaborative exercises undertaken by the artists in Te Pō to reconfigure the memories of their time spent together as a group. This work is based on the mural at Rotorua International Stadium, as well as the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport.
Wai Ching Chan
Wai Ching Chan is an artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Within her fibre-based works, she incorporates Chinese knots as her language to express the need to reconstruct and reinforce the connections and unity that exist between tauiwi and tangata whenua in Aotearoa.
About James Tapsell-Kururangi
James Tapsell-Kururangi (Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Mākino, Tainui, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-a-Rākairoa) is a curator, artist and writer currently working as assistant curator at Te Tuhi. His curatorial practice centres local Māori histories and focuses on building relationships within the community of artists he works with. His artistic practice is built from his whakapapa, in which he composes waiata that he frames within moving image artworks. He is also curator of the independent art space Papatūnga at Parnell Station, Tāmaki Makaurau.