Every few years, the curatorial team at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū embarks on a major rehang of the first-floor collection area. It’s no small undertaking finding fresh ways to combine long-held, well-known works and new acquisitions, looking for combinations that will offer compelling viewing, immersive storytelling and intellectual engagement to our wide and evolving visitor base. This time, director Blair Jackson added another dimension to our task, challenging us to reimagine the physical orientation of the spaces to encourage visitors to interact with the architecture in a completely different way.
I’ve had this little untitled sculpture by Clare Noonan on the same wall in my home for more than 15 years. It might even be the first thing I hung there, since we’ve had our house about that long. I bought it at a fundraiser for the High Street Project, and I’ve always loved it, for reasons I find hard to explain. Sometimes, it suggests a new way to think about the world; in others, it feels like a reminder of something I already know.
Artists from Aotearoa New Zealand are often well-travelled. Feeling the distance of Aotearoa from the world’s centres of art, they have often been drawn overseas to study and work, contributing to the art history of their adopted countries as well as this one.
The Māori whakataukī or proverb “He toka tū moana” uses the image of a rock that stands firmly in the ocean to describe someone steadfast and strong in their culture or beliefs, who defies all opposition.