Shane Cotton (born 1964), New Zealand (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Hine, Te Uri Taniwha)
Whakapiri Atu te Whenua, 1993, oil paint on canvas. Purchased 1993 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds
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'Retain the land'
Note: Whakapiri Atu te Whenua, by Shane Cotton will return to Toi Te Papa in February 2011 once new acquisition Poedua [Poetua], daughter of Oreo, chief of Ulaietea, one of the Society Isles shifts to the conservation laboratory.
The plants, flags, and palisades in this work are drawn from imagery painted in meeting houses on the East Coast of the North Island. Those nineteenth-century Māori figurative paintings were early and striking examples of the exchange between Māori and European visual cultures. They marked the beginning of an art form combining Māori and Western practices.
Shane Cotton re-invents these symbols in a modern context, where they become a charged reference to the adverse effects of colonisation. What was originally about exchange is now also about loss.
This rich library of symbols has also been informed by Cotton’s personal journey, re-connecting with his whakapapa (genealogy) and identity.