Shane Cotton

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1964
Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Hine, Te Uri Taniwha, Māori


  • 2007
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • Purchased, 2007
  • 2000 x 3000mm
  • 2007/044

Before there was the world of light there was Te Pō, the night; and before Te Pō there was Te Korekore, the void, the realm of potential. There’s an unearthly quality to this painting, where the dark sky behind the cliff might signify the vastness of space rather than the fall of night. “All my work, in some form, has a relationship to Māori cosmology”, says Shane Cotton. “A lot of what I paint is about the relationship of matter and ideas to one another, and where things sit in context to one another: whakapapa.” A giant rock face takes on human features. Birds plummet past at great speed, forming themselves out of or into carving patterns: are they flying or falling? Among them is a bird which might be Taiamai, the great white ancestral bird of Ngāpuhi, who vanished by melting into a rock that still stands not far from Ohaeawai in the Far North. Cotton’s painting describes a place of potential and possibility, a world which intersects with our own yet is not of it.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Exhibition History