Ani O'Neill

Cook Islands / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1971
Ngāti Makea, Cook Islands Māori, Ngāti Te Tika, Pasifika, Ireland

'etu iti

  • Purchased 2018
  • Kikau (coconut midrib), feathers, raffia, shells, beads, sequins, videotape, recycled plastic, nylon yarn, wire
  • 2018/039
  • 2006

“Though people may not see my work as political – it is. I want to re-ignite something inside the viewer that they may have forgotten existed; the ‘Pacific Island way’ of creating the world.” —Ani O’Neill In Cook Islands Māori, 'etu iti means ‘little stars’. This work was inspired by sacred objects from Oceania that are usually never seen or touched: bundles of fine sticks bound with feathers collected from Hawai'i long ago and now held in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, England. It was created for an exhibition in which artists responded to the museum’s collections. Interested in “passing on the flame to light new paths”, Ani O’Neill worked with the help of local school children. She often works collaboratively, empowering people through art making. Through this process she upholds Polynesian values, using her work to foster a sense of community rather than elitism. She also chooses everyday materials, and by elevating their status she challenges the western hierarchy of materials and art forms.

(Te Wheke, 2020)