Star Waka acknowledges past, present and future voyaging to and from Aotearoa in all directions, with the stars reflecting navigation patterns over time and space. Together, the waka and the stars symbolise the universe and the binding together of ira atua (the realm of the gods) and ira tangata (the realm of humans). Star Waka is also the title of Robert Sullivan’s book of poetry, which engages with the imagination and encapsulates our vision to create a symbolic waka in a star-studded universe.
Auckland based Filipino artist Louie Bretaña expands on the role of stars as guides to both navigation and to life with a series of new suspended sculptures. Based on the design of the parol, traditional Christmas lanterns from the Philippines, each work reassigns the object with an indigenous narrative dedicated to a diwata (deity) and embellishes it with contemporary visual narratives by Bretaña. Connecting the old with the new is also a reminder of what was always there – using the figurative and literal action tingala (to look up). Visitors are welcome to lie on mats to view the sculptures, and receive blessings from each celestial deity.
Painter Rob McLeod continues to push the traditional boundaries of painting with this new body of work that challenges his nostalgia for Scotland. While the works themselves break form, so do his own thoughts, manifested in a range of characters that move and melt across the gallery walls and floor. They wear captivatingly wily and distorted references to tartan, bagpipes, songs and music that are inherently connected to the history of painting through colour, shape and form.
To step mindfully onto the farmland to photograph a panorama of the battle site from both Māori and Pākehā points of view. After several footsteps, and with some bafflement, I stop dead in my tracks at a strange sensation deep inside my belly, which today I’m still unable clearly to throw light on. History was here, I grasp that, but this was out of that range. Does earth hold memory, and deliver that memory when the gravity is ripe? Over several recent years, photographer and artist Bruce Connew has roamed the many memorials and gravestones of Aotearoa’s colonial wars to seek out the texts on these testaments to folly. A vocabulary of colonisation.
Finn Ferrier has always been toiling with rope. Lately, he has been creating vessels, or, ropeware objects in conversation with the history and his tacit knowledge of craft. The new and recent works on display in Ferrier’s new exhibition Soft Garniture use materiality to reveal the tension between the maker and the nature of the object. Informed by ceramics, Ferrier's sculptures explore the qualities and limitations of working with rope.
2020 marked the 20th anniversary of the Portage Ceramics Awards, which have become Aotearoa’s premier showcase for ceramic practice, organised annually by Te Uru. A special exhibition was planned to replace the traditional awards competition. Fondly known as ‘The Portage’, this year’s survey exhibition displayed all twenty winning works from previous years, spanning large scale installation to fine porcelain sculpture.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini | My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, it was not individual success but the success of a collective
NUku offers a ceramic journey from an indigenous perspective, bringing together both emergent and established artists as well as members of the Māori clay artist collective, Ngā Kaihanga Uku. Combining the concept of nuku, uku and inherently referencing Papatūānuku, NUku is an exhibition of ceramics that celebrates collaboration and indigenous culture. Whakapapa enriched, each artist brings their unique contribution, sharing a united passion. Together we are more.
Presented alongside Portage 20/20
Te Uru presents an exhibition of new work by Wayne Youle, made during his studio residency at McCahon House in 2019. Spilling out from the Learning Centre Gallery into Te Uru’s stairwell, Elevation is anchored by a large sculpture that cuts across the centre of the gallery. This is based on the famously open-air children’s bunkroom underneath the McCahon cottage and brings an imagined section of McCahon House into the gallery. Throughout this exhibition, Youle mixes history with design and sculpture, demonstrating a deep engagement with the McCahon legacy.
Testing the limits of interactive art, James Charlton’s THROWN is a major new installation to experience at Te Uru this spring. A series of free-standing mechanical structures will populate the gallery like strange sporting equipment, programmed and loaded with hundreds of tennis balls, ready to be released into the air and collected by a team of voluntary agents.
On the Last Afternoon: Disrupted Ecologies and the Work of Joyce Campbell was the first substantial presentation of artist Joyce Campbell’s photo-and media-based practice, first held at the Adam Art Gallery Te Pataka Toi in 2019. The exhibition was originally developed in dialogue with the architecture of the Adam Art Gallery and is now re-staged within Te Uru’s similarly unique gallery environment.
Auckland-based artist Tim Wagg works across a variety of mediums including video, installation and digital painting. His work explores the intersections of politics, identity and technology within the context of New Zealand. He considers the tangibility of archives and histories, and examines the visual languages surrounding moments of political change.
A new group exhibition, developed over the lockdown period, that thinks about the future through the current moment. If this era of pandemic-driven flux could be visualised, what would it look like? In the past few months, feelings of uncertainty have combined with decisive action to create a future that seems constantly just out of reach. If these strange times could tell us anything, however, it is that the future is always just out of reach, like a strange new constellation of stars in the distant sky or a rainbow appearing intermittently on the horizon.
As kimono culture flourished during the Edo period (1603-1868), netsuke, small carvings, were created as toggles to hold pouches and cases containing tobacco and medicine in place on the obi sash worn with the kimono.
Theo Schoon (1915–85) is a controversial figure. He was born in Java to Dutch parents, but educated back in the Netherlands at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts. He arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1939, where he would become a catalyst for modernism. The first comprehensive exhibition of Schoon’s art in decades, Split Level View Finder rethinks his legacy for 21st–century Aotearoa.
36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea is a series of nine site-specific participatory performances and video artworks by New York-based interdisciplinary artist Sarah Cameron Sunde, spanning six continents and seven years (2013–2020). In each, Sunde stands in a tidal area for 12-13 hours as water engulfs her body and then reveals it again. It is a radical call to reconsider our relationship with water as individuals, as communities, and as a species.
A convergence of vibrant colours and fluid geometric forms result in a new series of paintings by Nicola Farquhar that almost vibrate with organic life, microscopically moving between the inner and outer spaces of abstracted feminine forms.
Mafine is a solo exhibition of acrylic paintings on canvas inspired by the female form. 81-year-old Samoan artist, Pusi Urale, explores abstract painting and pointillism using vibrant colours to express her unique point of view. This exhibition draws on her extensive knowledge of Polynesian patterns and flora native to the Moana Nui a Kiwa.