Collection

Fiona Pardington Portrait of a Life-cast, possibly of ‘Taha-tahala’ [possibly Takatahara], Aotearoa New Zealand

Across her career, Fiona Pardington has a history of working with found objects. This portrait acts to reclaim an image believed to be of her ancestor, Takatahara from Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula. The subject was introduced to the plaster-cast technique of naturalist and phrenologist Jules Dumont d’Urville at Ōtakou during one of his visits to Aotearoa in the early 1800s. Often mistaken for death masks, life-casts were in fact made with the subject’s participation. Takatahara was known as a robust toa (warrior) who fought in, and lived well past, the battle with Te Rauparaha at Ōnawe pā (fortified village).

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
The Destruction Of O-tu-matu Goose Bay

Colin S. Lovell-Smith The Destruction Of O-tu-matu Goose Bay

With the arrival of the motorcar, Otama-a-kura / Goose Bay (south of Kaikōura) became a popular camping spot for summer visitors. Christchurch-born couple Colin and Rata Lovell-Smith stayed there regularly throughout the 1930s, joining the throng heading north each season to camp, fish and relax – and, for these two, to paint. The results of Colin’s labours include a pared back evening coastal scene at Haumuri Point; and this painterly record of civil engineering works disturbing the usually tranquil Otumatu (near Goose Bay) during the completion of the Main Trunk Line in 1939.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
Ina te Papatahi, a Ngāpuhi Chieftainess (Te Ngahengahe, Ngāpuhi)

Charles Frederick Goldie Ina te Papatahi, a Ngāpuhi Chieftainess (Te Ngahengahe, Ngāpuhi)

Ina te Papatahi lived at the Waipapa Māori hostel in Mechanics Bay, Tāmakimakaurau / Auckland, not far from Charles Goldie’s Hobson Street studio. She sat for him many times, the first time in 1902. The niece of prominent Ngāpuhi rangatira (chiefs) Eruera Maihi Patuone and Tāmati Waka Nene, both signatories of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, she was well-connected and introduced Goldie to many other Māori who agreed to sit for him. Ina te Papatahi was later remembered by Goldie’s friend, the writer and historian James Cowan, for her “very likeable nature”, “keen sense of humour” and the “great interest [she took] in the painting of her portrait”.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
The Mamakus

Buck Nin The Mamakus

For the exhibition Untitled #1050 (25 November 2017 – 14 October 2018) this work was displayed with the following label:

“Land is essential to the Māori people because it’s been used by the ancestors for centuries. I believe that during that time, of centuries past, there has been a spiritual content left in the land. This spiritual content infuses and gives soul to the land and in turn the land gives it back to us and humanises our soul because of our ancestors.”

In this painting Nin’s inspiration is the Mamaku Range lying just West of Rotorua. Landforms have been simplified while an abstract pattern based on the traditional prow and stern carvings of the famous 200 year old Māori war canoe, Te Winika, has been overlaid.

Nin said, “I’ve taken that whole aspect of the canoe prow and the stern post and looked at it and planted it on my painting so that you look through the lattice-work, as it were, into the land, through into the soul of the land.”

Studying art at Ilam Art School here in Christchurch during the 1960s, Nin emerged as a modernist painter interested in abstraction which he combined with Māori culture. His time at Ilam “opened the door for me to bridge the gap between the Pākehā world […] and the Māori world. My paintings are a synthesis of the bi-cultural situation that we have here in New Zealand.”

—Buck Nin, 1981

Collection

Peter Robinson Mission Statement: First we take Island Bay then we take Berlin

Mission Statement was painted in a friend’s studio in Ōtautahi / Christchurch at a time when Peter Robinson was regularly travelling back and forth between Aotearoa New Zealand and Germany. Riffing off Leonard Cohen’s lyrics, he outlined a plan for geopolitical success as a contemporary artist: a campaign first to be waged in a suburb of Wellington, then in Berlin. When he first started exhibiting in Germany, he found that his work was in danger of being misread – or exoticised – because of its New Zealand cultural references. He made his own ambition to succeed in Europe the supposed focus of a body of work, casting himself as an enterprising tourist with a plan for world domination. Although it seems humorous, the real subject is cultural alienation and the difficulty of communication between people with different cultures and languages.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
Hokianga

Olivia Spencer Bower Hokianga

In 1948, Olivia Spencer Bower spent several months at Rawene in the Hokianga Harbour recovering from suspected rheumatic fever, and was reinvigorated by the setting: “I was excited by the spirit of the old fortified hills, the mixture of the old Maori culture with the new, the mangrove swamps, the remoteness of the place and the speedy accessibility to them by launch.” She painted at least five variations of this work.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
Diamond Harbour

Margaret Stoddart Diamond Harbour

Margaret Stoddart was born in Te Waipapa / Diamond Harbour. Her father gave the harbour its English name after its sparkling waters, and commissioned the jetty’s construction in about 1857. Stoddart spent nine years in Europe studying, painting and exhibiting. When she returned home in 1906 she brought with her a skilful impressionist approach to her work. Stoddart was a prolific watercolourist who favoured coastal locations. At her first solo exhibition at the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1911, most of the fifty works shown had been painted near her family’s home at Diamond Harbour. However, as a reviewer for the Lyttelton Times noted, “New Brighton has received a share of attention, and perhaps it is shown at its best during a storm, gusts of wind howling across the Estuary, bending the tussock and grass on the beach.”

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
Rakapa, an Arawa Chieftainess: Rakapa Te Tira (Ngāti Te Takinga, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Arawa) [also known as Rakapa Manawa/Ngatatau/Rapana/Mitai]

Charles Frederick Goldie Rakapa, an Arawa Chieftainess: Rakapa Te Tira (Ngāti Te Takinga, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Arawa) [also known as Rakapa Manawa/Ngatatau/Rapana/Mitai]

Rakapa Te Tira (also known as Rakapa Manawa/Ngatatau/Rapana/Mitai) was a rangatira (chief) of Te Arawa who lived at Te Takinga marae at Mourea, on the eastern shores of Lake Rotorua. Charles Goldie painted Rakapa’s portrait at least six times between 1910 and 1918.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
Kiss The Baby Good-Bye (the maquette)

Michael Parekowhai Kiss The Baby Good-Bye (the maquette)

Appropriation—specifically, the use of indigenous cultural material by non-indigenous artists—was one of the critical issues of 1990s art in New Zealand, mirroring the other arguments about Māori land and property rights that were being waged in wider society. Michael Parekowhai’s monumental work Kiss the Baby Goodbye made a major contribution to that heated debate, when he reworked Gordon Walters’ painting Kahukura, completed in 1968—the year of Parekowhai’s own birth—as a sculpture in three dimensions, a giant kitset model ready to be snapped out and made up.

In the late 1980s and early 90s, Walters had been both vigorously attacked and fiercely defended for his earlier use of the pītau (fern frond) design taken from kōwhaiwhai panels in wharenui. Parekowhai’s Kiss the Baby Goodbye was an adaptation of Walters’ painting that both acknowledged the older artist’s work and asserted Māori ownership of its significant forms. It also brought the pītau design back from two dimensions into architectural space.

Christchurch Art Gallery’s work is a smaller version of Parekowhai’s original, made for his first major solo exhibition in 1994. Both sculptures share something not included in Walters’ painting: a final circle at the bottom right corner, which appears like a full stop. Parekowhai, it seemed, would have the last word.

(Your Hotel Brain 13 May 2017 - 8 July 2018)

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