Grant Takle

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1962

No Smoking

  • 2004
  • Galvanised enamel and acrylic on canvas
  • Purchased, 2005
  • 1720 x 1960 x 50mm
  • 2005/035

In the 1980s, you could smoke almost anywhere you liked in New Zealand—on aeroplanes and in schools, at restaurants and at work. An Act of Parliament introduced in 1990 and extended in 2004 banned smoking from most indoor public places. Grant Takle’s painting responds to the 2004 anti-smoking legislation, seeing it as a symbol of the change in the old order which had been echoing through New Zealand society since the early 1990s.

There were other public controversies in the air in 2004. The Foreshore and Seabed Act, which vested ownership of the coastline in the Crown, was the subject of protest. ‘Haters and wreckers’, a phrase on the right-hand side of Takle’s work, refers to the heated public conversations that swirled around this issue, while the scuba diver, Takle says, “is a kind of Aquarian Icarus diving into the convoluted depths and undercurrents”. No Smoking is full of coded symbols that refer to hot-button politics in Aotearoa New Zealand. “The card pips and the acorn are all seeds from which larger issues grow. And the flames relate to land ownership and occupation, as well as the passion of heated discourse—there’s no smoke without fire.”

Takle used silver galvanised paint to draw a netting-like skin on the work, in response to seeing the Belgian lace made and collected by his British ancestors. “There was something I responded to in this craft that I integrated into my work. Its patterns and repetitive motifs dovetailed into my own practice. They were web-like nets that held images in place. There was a tension that created energy fields, currents of cause and effect as well as knotted connections and family ties.”

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

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • I See Red, 5 December 2007 - 23 November 2008

    Red can mean stop, and stand for warning and danger – or anger. Here among many clues and symbols – drawn like tattoos or telephone pad doodles – we have to stop to see what the artist Grant Takle may be saying. We see a New Zealand map, and many things, going up in flames. The mood and the temperature are definitely rising. Will anything survive the heat?

  • 'No Smoking' is an investigation of New Zealand’s culture and history from a Pakeha, or non-Maori, perspective. Phrases such as ‘home wreckers’, and a skull and cross-bones, form the central, aggressive message.

    Takle considers New Zealand’s cultural identity, examining unsettling issues of colonisation and land ownership, economic sovereignty, emotional violence and politics. Loaded with symbolic meaning, No Smoking references the past while acknowledging contemporary society.

    Born and based in Christchurch, Takle majored in painting at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. In 1997, he was a finalist in both the Visa Gold Art Award and Wallace Art Awards. He received a Community Trust Arts Excellence Award the same year.

    (2004 label)