- Purchased, 2005
- Mixed media
Made for an exhibition in Rarotonga, Ani O’Neill’s tiny light-hearted sculptures are inspired by a children’s nursery rhyme, This little piggy went to market. But the association is not entirely benign. In the Cook Islands, puaka, or pigs, are a common source of food, but have also contributed to significant environmental problems. In the nursery rhyme one of the little pigs eats roast beef, but instead O’Neill has stuffed her roundest pig with a can of corned beef, a staple food of the Pacific—an imported product which has undermined traditional local fishing and cultivation skills.
O’Neill is an important figure in the generation of New Zealand Pasifika artists who came to prominence in the 1990s. Using Cook Island art techniques taught to her by her aunties and grandmother, including crochet, sewing and tivaevae (appliqué quilt-making), she makes work that looks at island culture from an urban perspective. Both cultures and both lived experiences are present in her sculptures and installations at once. O’Neill’s work often incorporates a social dimension, including holding markets or providing her viewers with opportunities to learn new textile skills. “I feel quite privileged to have these skills”, says O’Neill. “I know a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to learn these kind of things from their grandparents any more. I thought it was a responsibility to pass it on.”
(Your Hotel Brain 13 May 2017 - 8 July 2018)