Whenua: Land [Exhibition Catalogue - July 2018]

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14 -25 July





Whatungarongaro te tangata - ToitĂš te whenua People perish but the land endures

WHENUA: LAND WHENUA: LAND portrays perceptions of and relationships to whenua in Aotearoa as represented by nine artists of Aotearoa present and passed. Our hope for this exhibition is that it raises awareness of our place on this land and creates greater appreciation, humility even, for the privilege of our presence here. Matariki* is a vantage point from which to view whenua. Matariki celebrates the advent of the Maori New Year, where stars share a meaningful relationship with the land whenua in generating new life. Hence, we acknowledge both the confluence of stars and the fertility of whenua. In this context whenua is regarded as a living, breathing being which responds in kind to its immediate and celestial environment. This notion is captured across many disciplines, scientific and poetic, and across many apparently disparate worlds, uniting them in sentiment and understanding.

The Earth is a Sentient Living Organism: Lewis Thomas “Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the earth, catching the breath, is that it is alive. The photographs show the dry, pounded surface of the moon in the foreground, dry as an old bone. Aloft, floating free beneath the moist, gleaming, membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos. If you could look long enough, you would see the swirling of the great drifts of white cloud, covering and uncovering the half-hidden masses of land. If you had been looking for a very long, geologic time, you could have seen the continents themselves in motion, drifting apart on their crustal plates, held afloat by the fire beneath. It has the organized, self-contained look of a live creature, full of information, marvellously skilled in handling the sun.” Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell: 1974, The Viking Press Koia Mārika — So It Is. Tūhoe leader, Tāmati Kruger “And just a few months ago, some of you may have read that we composed Te Kawa o Te Urewera, which is our version of a management plan for Te Urewera. The first thing we did when we launched this document was we took everybody around Te Urewera, because we were saying that

Te Urewera was so joyous about the right way of doing things that Te Urewera wanted to greet everybody. We took everybody around Te Urewera for around about two or three hours. The launching of the book took about five minutes. And then the meal, the hākari afterwards, took an hour. And that’s how it should be. Now, we have a much-improved relationship with the Department of Conservation where we’re quite gentle with each other — well, on Mondays and Thursdays. And they’ve asked us to help the machine understand that this is a new world, that indeed a national park has disappeared, and there is this place that is of itself. It cannot be owned by anyone else, and the machine is having difficulty understanding what that is. And the machine does not want to give resources to something that it doesn’t own and something that it doesn’t control.” E-Tangata, Reflections November 18, 2017 initially presented as the Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture at the University of Auckland on 31 October, 2017

Papatuanuku Hone Tuwhare PAPA-TU-A-NUKU (Earth Mother) We are stroking, caressing the spineof the land. We are massaging the ricked back of the land With our sore but ever-loving feet. Hell, she loves it! Squirming, the land wriggles in delight. We love her. Maori Land Hikoi, 1975 Alexander Turnbull Library, Dominion Post Collection

MATARIKI AND ITS REFERENCE TO WHENUA *Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens. Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster and also of the season of its first rising which signals the beginning of the New Year. When the stars are at their brightest it is thought that this is the most auspicious time for planting.

The location of Puanga and Matariki in the mid-winter sky. From Work of the Gods by Richard Hall

Matariki star facts: Ngã Meka Matariki 1. The reappearance of the seven Matariki stars, in late May or early June, signals the beginning of the Māori New Year. However, not all iwi tribes celebrate at the same time. Some may begin festivities on the first full moon after the star cluster rises, or on the next new moon. 2. Matariki is a star cluster, not a constellation. A cluster is a group of stars that are near each other in space. When seen from Earth, the stars in a constellation appear to be close together in a pattern, but they might actually be far from each other. There are about 500 stars in the Matariki cluster, but only six or seven are visible without a telescope. 3. Matariki is one of the star clusters nearest to Earth. Compared with other star clusters, Matariki is close to Earth – but it’s still 440 light years away. If you drove there in a car at a speed of 100 kilometres an hour, you would arrive in 4.8 billion years!

4. Matariki has many different names around the world. The star cluster is visible to the naked eye from most parts of our planet, and has many different names. In English, it is called the Pleiades (its ancient Greek name) or the Seven Sisters. 5. In the past, Tohunga priests or experts looked to Matariki to predict if the next harvest would be abundant. The brighter and clearer the stars seemed, the warmer the growing season would be, ensuring a good harvest. 6. Many iwi speak of the seven Matariki stars as a mother and her daughters.The mother is Matariki, and her daughters are Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Waipunarangi, Waitī, Waitā, and Ururangi. 7. For some iwi, Matariki is connected to the creation story of Ranginui and Papatūānuku. One Matariki story is about when Tāwhirimātea god of the

wind discovered that his parents, Ranginui the sky father and Papatūānuku the earth mother, had been separated. He tore out his eyes in anger and threw them into the sky – the stars are his seven eyes. 8. Matariki was used by the crews of voyaging waka vessels to guide them across the Pacific. Tohunga kōkōrangi expert astronomers used stars and star clusters such as Matariki to help them navigate great distances across the Pacific. Today, there is a revival of these traditional navigation skills. Crews have sailed double-hulled waka from as far as Rarotonga to Aotearoa New Zealand, guided only by traditional methods. From Museum of New Zealand: Te Papa Tongarewa

ARTISTS Jo Barrett Don Binney Dean Buchanan Howie Cooke Robyn Gibson Richard Joughin Sean McDonnell Jermaine Reihana Celia Walker

Jo Barrett (Ngai Tahu) Joanne Barrett is of Danish, English, Maori, Native American and Scottish decent. She was educated at Te Kura o Kuini Wikitoria (Queen Victoria School) and graduated from ATI Graphics Arts in 1972. From 1974 to 2004 Barrett worked as a freelance graphic artist and managed packaging design and corporate brand development projects. Since 2006 she has worked in publishing. The inspiration to develop her art practice and to exhibit came about in 1998 when she created a painting for a charity art auction to raise money for Starship Children’s Hospital. Despite it being 20-years since she had put paint to canvas, her work fetched a great price at auction. Since then she has developed a technique that comes only with time spent giving her landscapes substance. This feeling of time and presence, wrought in layers of paint, perfectly complements the abstract-landscape genre. Using mixed media, textures are formed into lines to denote generations of growth or lineage creating a deeper relationship with te whenua, above and beneath the surface. Barrett has exhibited in group shows in Auckland, Rotorua and Northland. She has had four near sell-out solo exhibitions at Depot Artspace, Satellite Gallery and nkb Gallery. She has paintings held in private collections in New Zealand, Singapore and Germany. ‘Sacred - Precious’ “Just as the sun and rain nurtures the sacred umbilical cord of te whenua-the land, the moon and stars guide. So as day turns to night and night turns to day, and as seasons come and go, each cycle brings with it a new beginning. Te whenua-the land is precious. It is greater than me, yet I am part of it and it is part of me. It will embrace my body and protect my spirit beyond this lifetime.” Joanne Barrett.

Sacred - Precious: Mixed Media

Don Binney Don Binney OBE (1940 – 2012) is one of New Zealand’s most famous painters, best known for his paintings of birds. Don Binney was born in Auckland and grew up in Parnell, taking classes with John Weeks and R B Sibson, the latter becoming his good friend and guide to field ornithology. In birdwatching, Binney says he discovered a passage into the landscape and the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with it. Binney described himself as a figurative painter concerned with the psychic metaphor of the environment. Working in oil, acrylic, charcoal, ink and carbon pencil, many of his works depicted the west coast of Auckland and Northland, containing sea, sky, native birds, still life and occasionally, figures. From 1958-61 Binney studied at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, gaining a Diploma of Fine Arts. Binney’s tutors included Ida Eisa, James Turkington, Robert Ellis and Robin Wood. In 1963, he held his first solo exhibition at Ikon Gallery, Auckland and began teaching at Mt. Roskill Grammar School (until 1966). Binney exhibited widely throughout New Zealand and had a retrospective exhibition that toured the country during 2003-2004. His work is represented in many public collections including those of the Auckland City Art Gallery and Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. (Excerpted from Artis Gallery) Te Henga/Bethells Beach: Signed print NFS

Dean Buchanan For nearly half a century Dean Buchanan’s energy, passion and intimate connection to the whenua and environment of Aotearoa New Zealand has been reflected in his paintings. He expresses this love of landscape in his large oil paintings. Mountains, bush, coasts are rendered into semi-abstract forms outlined in thick strokes of color, often straight from the tube. They are colorful, dramatic and complex depictions of particular places. They have a raw vitality that reflects New Zealand’s rugged scenery in cohesive, vivid, and strikingly energetic images. ‘Coupled with his creative talent is an ability to live life to the full. No shrinking violet, Buchanan has always expressed himself forthrightly, especially in defence of preserving New Zealand’s natural environment. He has also become a mountaineer of some note, and in January 2007 succeeded in climbing Mt Cook. Bob Harvey interviewed Dean Buchanan extensively for the book “Wild Beast: The Art of Dean Buchanan” and describes every facet of his life.’ Black Door Gallery: Dean Buchanan

‘Tāmaki-makau-rau:’ Oil on Canvas

Howie Cooke Born to a Kiwi mum and an Australian dad, Whenua for me, a ‘child of the Tasman’ living in Byron Bay has been primarily an affinity with the Coast, and in the same way that i see the truer name of this planet as Ocean, i feel a deep connection with the Sea, tempered by an endless wonderment from catchment to horizon, for rivers, littoral forests, estuaries, sand dunes and the surf. My sense of connection to country therefore is often about being with local people in many countries, physically in that water environment, whether in sunlit waves with dolphins, diving on Pacific reefs or laying on a deck of a yacht off an ancient land, listening to whales rumbling and breathing alongside, beneath the Southern Cross and a billion stars Equally, for me Whenua has meant taking direct action to protect the gift of land, ocean and life, whether walking on the Maori Land March in 1975, setting up the Whaletipi and banners at many International Whaling Commissions, being a Sea Shepherd crew disrupting whaling operations in Antarctica or the Faeroe Islands, paddling out with Surfers for Cetaceans in the dolphin slaughter Cove in Japan, joining blockades against fracking in Australia or painting large murals celebrating whales and marine life all around the world Across Auckland: Mixed Media

The Estuary – ARD Fairburn The wind has died, no motion now in the summer’s sleepy breath. Silver the sea-grass, the shells and the driftwood, fixed in the moon’s vast crystal. Think: long after, when the walls of the small house have collapsed upon us, each alone, far gone the earth’s invasion the slow earth bedding and filling the bone, this water will still be crawling up the estuary, fingering its way among the channels, licking the stones; and the floating shells, minute argosies under the giant moon, still shoreward glide among the mangroves on the creeping tide. The noise of gulls comes through the shining darkness over the dunes and the sea. Now the clouded moon is warm in her nest of light. The world’s a shell where distant waves are murmuring of a time beyond this time. Give me the ghost of your hand: unreal, unreal the dunes, the sea, the mangroves, and the moon’s white light, unreal, beneath our naked feet, the sand.


Lila Pulsford reads The Estuary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-oq9Dk1ySE


Sunday Morning – Janet Frame Salt water is poetry. I did not decide this or prepare a statement to astonish; it is always my pleasure on Sundays looking out of my window at the petal-white Dunedin light to trace the green stalk to its roots in the sea, then say as the tentacles take hold and I drown, the oxygen of silence withheld – salt water is poetry not mine but the providers whom I thank by reading and wish never again to breathe the silent air. http://nzpoems.blogspot.com/2012/

Robyn Gibson The two works Golden Bird and Love Animals celebrate the Matariki ethos love and nature, hope, fecundity and starting anew. Golden Bird specifically relates to the mammoth heart of our Kauri trees. The body or vessel shape signifies a container of historic significance, a man made object suggesting something more than meets the eye, a gentle reminder of fragility, sublime and the delicate coexistence of flora and fauna. Love Animals explores our ongoing relationships with animals and each other. The classical shape is animated with its embellishments and simplistic references to our world and its symbolic representations. Gibson’s early works were influenced by the geographical vastness, accentuated colours and the dusty rustic confusion of the Australian outback where the artist made her home in the eighties and nineties. The contemporary strangeness and diversity of a number of Australian painters she developed an affinity with at this time included Charles Blackman, Sydney Nolan and Joy Hester to name a few. Deep tone contrasting colours and ambiguous spacial investigations live on influencing an array of recent works. Gibson is an exploratory painter and assemblage artist whose professional career spans over 30 years exhibiting and participating in exhibition and art projects in both New Zealand and Australia.

From left to right: Golden Bird: Mixed Media , Love Animal:s Mixed Media

Richard Joughin I studied ceramics and the fine arts in Dunedin at Otago School of Fine Arts, graduating in ceramics in 1978 and the fine arts in 1981. During the 1980s I built myself a studio, purchased a kiln and proceeded to paint and make sculpture. In the 1990s I studied landscaping at Carrington, graduating in 1991 and going into a business partnership. In 1996 I finished with the landscaping and on the proceeds I went travelling. I went through Europe and the Middle East and worked in London for a number of years, soaking in the rich cultural heritage of all those great countries. I returned to New Zealand in late 2002 and since then have committed myself to painting, and sculpture in both ceramic and steel. Paintings: A fundamental concept in my work is the dichotomy between abstraction and realism and integrating them as abstracted realism through an economy of line and colour. Similarly, in my paintings is the combining of opposites and the atmosphere still present between them, for example, hard edge and soft, fixed and floating, dark and light, colour and not, weight and delicacy, communion and isolation and the crowd and the individual. These dichotomies may appear peculiar to cities but not necessarily.

North Head/Maungauika: Watercolour on paper NFS

Sean McDonnell Sean Graduated from Elam in 2001 and has been painting and exhibiting both nationally and internationally since then. He held his first solo exhibition at the Depot Artspace in 2002. Sean lives at Bayly’s Beach near Dargaville. Whenua means home, New Zealand, a place for co-existence with the land. Sean recently moved back up north where there is an abundance of nature. The first image is near his house on Rapiro Beach (New Zealand’s longest beach at 107km). The painting is based on a 40 thousand year old kauri tree stump that is poking its head through the sand. The second painting is based on a recent trip to Kaingaroa forest in the Ureweras. Sean was guiding 15 students from Hong Kong University through the area. It was part of their humanities project with the Iwi Ngati Kahungunu . The forest has stands of ancient virgin podocarp trees and is the spiritual home of the Tuhoe people. The Urewera area is steeped in history and is a spiritual, mysterious place.

From left to right: Kauri tree stump: Oil paint on board

Kaingaroa forest lights: Oil paint on board 2018

Jermaine Reihana Jermaine Reihana is of Ngaati Hine, Ngai Tuupoto and Paakehaa whakapapa and graduated with a Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts (hons.) degree from Te Kunenga ki Puurehuroa Massey University. Reihana’s work hinges on customary Māori narrative and art conventions to relate with and navigate through the complexities of contemporary society. Reihana paints native flora and fauna, rendered in a fine illustrative style juxtaposed with a stylistic re-interpretation of kōwhaiwhai, tukutuku, and whakairo design conventions. Native fauna remains as the central source and symbol, but in an interesting development, perhaps evolutionary and representing the necessary reconciliation between the phenomenal and sacred worlds, in this instance Tuuii is intentionally alighting on earth. Rehua(eldest son of Rangi and Papa) with Matariki birthed the atua who are the stars in the cluster known as Matariki. Tuuii where gifted to Taane Mahuta from Rehua, to be the guardians of the forest ‘Te Waonui a Taane’. Tuuii exists at the confluence of Ranginui and Papatuuaanuku and as a transient being has been sent here from Ngaa Rangi Tuuhaha to be the eyes and ears of atua on earth. The call of Tuuii is a call to action and a constant reminder of our collective role as kaitiaki of the whenua.

From left to right: Tuia ki te rangi, ki te whenua III Tuia ki te rangi, ki te whenua I

Celia Walker I am a researcher, printmaker and writer based in Devonport, with a particular interest in the history, ecology, and restoration of urban landscapes. My PhD in Art History from the University of Auckland (2010) was around colonial landscape and travel, focusing on the journeys of Charles Heaphy, and I have recently retrained in environmental science. My current work in the environmental sector is reflected in the ecological focus of much of my art practice. Rough Ground Collagraph, linocut and drypoint The processes of grid-searching and imposing structural overlays to create a framework for management of the vegetation of Maungauika/North Head suggest a distancing from the ground underfoot, but this is counterbalanced by a need to explore in close detail the shape of the land and hidden archaeology. The tensions in this rough ground come between competing histories, uses and needs – strong desires to restore Maori values and native vegetation become problematic when even the ways of doing this present multiple challenges, however promising steps are being taken that will help us all reconnect with much older presences on the maunga. Ground – Truth Collagraph, monotype, linocut Ground-truthing is an ecological term, used to validate aerial surveys with on-the-ground site referencing. I am drawn to both this practical meaning of the term, and the significance of walking and close observation in a particular place, but also the more abstract implications – recent controversies over vehicle access to the summit of Takarunga/Mt Victoria suggest multiple truths to this contested ground. The layers of human occupation, as well as plant accumulations, reflect the continual processes of intervention in this space. Tiny erosions around casual pathways cut across the sides the mountain reveal traces of ancient middens, evidence of the earliest residents here. The plant material found on the maunga speaks more of our most recent activities, with dense overlays of pine needles, leaf fall from deciduous trees, and exotic weeds dominating what would have once been dense native cover. From left to right: Rough Ground, Ground Truth

28 Clarence Street, Devonport (09) 963 2331 www.depotartspace.co.nz

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