Director’s Foreword

Cora-Allan Encountering Aotearoaright now 2024. Whenua paint, kāpia inkon hiapo. Courtesy of the artist

Cora-Allan Encountering Aotearoa
right now 2024. Whenua paint, kāpia ink
on hiapo. Courtesy of the artist

Welcome to the winter 2024 edition of Bulletin. At its very heart, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū is built upon a collection that weaves together diverse threads from history, culture and imagination. From contemporary installations that reflect and challenge the world around us to finely crafted historical paintings, each piece tells us something about the human experience, connecting past, present and future in a continuous dialogue. The works in our collection make other statements too: about where we have come from, who we are now, and how we hope others might see us in the future. Far more than a selection of static objects, it’s a living resource that will continue to grow and change as time passes and ideas shift, and as Ōtautahi Christchurch continues to adapt and transform into a diverse and exciting cultural powerhouse.

For ten years, the Together partners of Gallery’s incredible Foundation have collectively worked to help us develop the collection, adding to the legacy we care for and share with so many people, in person and online. As we mark a decade of the Together initiative, we have launched a refreshed iteration of the Together programme with an expanded vision. We’re focusing on honouring and safeguarding the best of what’s gone before us while also re-examining our journey to this point. Importantly, we’re also celebrating and supporting the artists of today by providing them with opportunities to make ambitious and adventurous new works. With our eyes firmly on the future, we are focused on how the Gallery will meet its challenges and expectations, and on what our legacy will represent for generations to come. You can read more about our new programme on the Foundation’s website at My warm thanks to the Foundation and our Together partners for being part of something so generous, forward-thinking and genuinely significant.

One way we celebrate today’s artists is through helping them to generate new work. Toloa Tales, opening in June, is a new exhibition the Gallery has commissioned from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland-based artists Edith Amituanai (Aotearoa, Sāmoa) and Sione Tuívailala Monū (Aotearoa, Australia, Tonga). In late 2023, the artists spent five weeks in Sāmoa, making work that explored a friend’s participation in the Miss Sāmoa Fa'afafine Pageant, and the return of Edith’s aunt to the place of her birth. The video works they produced trace migratory threads between Sāmoa, Tonga, Aotearoa, Australia and the United States though personal stories and the tender moments of everyday life. The pair talked to Bulletin about their time in Sāmoa, their process of making, and how their understandings of cultural identity and migration have changed over time.

Also opening at the Gallery this June is Marilynn Webb: Folded in the Hills, which comes to us from Dunedin Public Art Gallery. The exhibition’s curators Lauren Gutsell, Lucy Hammonds and Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) have developed a show that traces five decades of art making by this renowned Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa and Ngāti Kahu artist. Best known as a printmaker, Marilynn Webb (NZOM) was an artist, an educator, a feminist and an environmental activist whose deeply personal and courageous art confronted the salient issues of her time. In this issue of Bulletin we’re delighted to hear from emeritus professor Ngāhuia te Awekōtuku (Arawa, Tūhoe, Waikato, Ngāpuhi), who writes about what Marilynn meant to her as a friend, and why she is important.

In ‘Down and Gritty’, curator Ken Hall investigates a subgenre of Aotearoa New Zealand art that he argues is frequently under recognised – that of urban and industrial landscape. Ken pulls together a selection of works from the exhibition From Here on the Ground by very well known and less familiar artists that illustrate how they have explored the subject matter around themselves in their urban lives. Barbara Garrie, senior lecturer in art history at the University of Canterbury, looks at some of the intergenerational pairings in our major collection exhibition Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, which closes on soon. Drawing on these pairings, she asks how our choices around what to collect and display can help to shape social consciousness and public discourse. And artist Cora-Allan (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tumutumu, Niue – Liku, Alofi), whose work makes such an eloquent statement on this issue’s cover, talks to her Pāpā Kelly Lafaiki about his experiences working with her in researching and developing the Experiencing Aotearoa exhibition.

Our Pagework comes from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland-based artist Xin Cheng, whose print of scum floating on the surface of a local waterway is considerably more beautiful than it might sound, and this issue’s My Favourite is supplied by Lyttelton-based playwright, author and Press columnist Joe Bennett.