Lonnie Hutchinson’s new exhibition at Te Puna o Waiwhetū Christchurch Art Gallery is a calling—between living rākau rongoā planted on the forecourt of the Gallery and imprints of their leaves cut into wallpaper and metal inside. It questions our construction of spaces, the exterior versus the interior presentation of ourselves, inevitably exposing our own health and that of our taiao. Lonnie talks about rongoā, medicinal plant extracts, as being human-made, in as much as paper is human-made from plants, or aluminium cladding from bauxite in the earth. She carves the shapes of leaves into paper and aluminium and we are asked to step with her into te whare tapa wha—the house of healing. Sir Mason Durie designed this whare with a pillar for our tinana, our hinengaro, our wairua and our whānau and it is these things that I feel Hutchinson is asking us to notice in her deconstructed rongoā built of the elements, extracted from the earth, intrinsic to our whakapapa.
A few years ago, I walked the old Ngāi Tahu trails through Kā Tiritiri-o-te-moana The Southern Alps. I was hunting for traces of our pre-European history in the mountains. I encountered a lot of Pākehā mountain history as well. In the upper Waimakariri Basin, on my way to Tarahaka Arthur’s Pass, I wandered into New Zealand’s greatest painting – as seen on TV.
In recent months, retired potter and former president of the Canterbury Potters’ Association, Rex Valentine – a man passionate about clay – and art consultant Grant Banbury have been working behind-the-scenes in the Gallery alongside registration, curatorial and conservation staff. They’ve been assisting with an audit of a part of the collection that we’re excited to be working with more – the Gallery’s ceramics holdings.
Here Banbury and Valentine discuss the latter’s own production and involvement in pottery circles in Canterbury from the late 1960s to the 1980s; his time spent in studying pottery in Japan, and his involvement with pottery acquisitions during Brian Muir’s directorship of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery. The edited extracts that follow are from an interview recorded at Valentine’s home in Christchurch on 10 April 2021.
We sang the national anthem every morning before school. Our tiny white business shirts ironed and tucked in by our mothers, our striped red and black ties straightened and pinned to our chests. Across the large concrete plane that constituted both playground and football field, we lined up in two large groups and stood next to our peers before a five-metre flagpole that bore the flag of our nation: the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Ralph Hotere’s art charted his journeys throughout Aotearoa and the world, reflecting on his experiences, identity and politics. As the first major survey exhibition of Hotere’s artistic career for over twenty years, Ātete celebrates his achievements and brings his vision to a new generation. It’s been a huge project to bring together so we thought it was timely to ask the four curators to tell us a little about their relationship with Hotere – how do they connect as individuals with the artist’s works, and the themes and the locations that they explore?
Painted blue and patterned with rust, the thin plywood panels and screens lean nonchalantly around the walls of the gallery and form a skyline of sorts. Across the floor sculptures intersect the space, with groupings of tall rods, waist-high enclosures, clusters of plywood shapes and a small kayak frame on salvaged seaweed and driftwood. Islands for the audience to navigate. The forms are roughly human in scale and relative to the body, generating an intensity and making this an immersive installation to wade through.
Welcome to the world of Larence Shustak—a rule-breaker and image-maker who came of age in the creative cauldron that was New York City in the 1950s. He used a camera as a paintbrush, documenting as well as creatively interpreting his subjects: street people and nudes. Old folks and children. Jazz legends.
All of us at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū were very saddened to hear of the death of Bill Hammond over the weekend. Bill’s contribution to the art of Aotearoa New Zealand was original and unforgettable and he occupied a special, beloved place within the arts communities of Christchurch and Lyttelton.