Shane Cotton

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1964

One Lord’s Prayer,...to the rhythm

  • Purchased, 2001
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • 710 x 1012 x 34mm
  • 2002/39
  • 2001

This is one in a series of ‘Black Out’ paintings by Shane Cotton. They relate to a 19th century Maori spiritualist movement of the same name whose followers adopted elements of Christianity, most notably the Lord’s Prayer. Many of Cotton’s works refer to the destruction of Maori art work by the early missionaries. He redresses this ‘whiting out’ by ‘blacking out’ his composition.

Cotton has combined images of Maori culture – the waka (canoe) and Maori head – with aspects of European iconography, such as the horse. The fragmented text in the background is part of the Maori translation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Cotton is of Nga Puhi descent. He studied at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Art, where he was awarded the Ethel Rose Overton Scholarship in Fine Arts and the Sawtell-Turner Prize in Painting. In 1998 Cotton was the Frances Hodgkins Fellow at the University of Otago and a winner of the Seppelt Art Award at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

For the exhibition 'I see red' at Pataka Museum of Arts and Cultures, Porirua (14 March - 21 June 2009), this work appeared with the following label:

Like a computer touchscreen or website page, Shane Cotton’s painting contains many active points. At which point shall we enter?

A white horse, waka (canoe), camouflage patterns and curling kowhaiwhai designs compete for attention, floating on a sea of sacred red (kura, the colour of painted rafter designs or carvings). Red here is also the background to ancient text – words of the Lord’s Prayer in Maori – spreading out like a repeating, rhythmic pattern, and charting a voyage of thoughtful navigation.