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Meridian Lines: Contemporary art from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Black Rainbow: Ralph Hotere & Michael Parekowhai
Innocents Abroad – Touring the Pacific through a colonial lens
Meridian Lines featured works by seven leading contemporary New Zealand artists: Ani O’Neill, Bill Hammond, Gordon Walters, John Pule, Michael Parekowhai, Ralph Hotere, and Yuk King Tan. All were selected from Te Papa’s collection.
The works reflected some of the many approaches to art-making that have developed in New Zealand over the last 40 years. They also illustrated the ways in which artistic forms and ideas have flowed between the various cultures that meet in our corner of the world – Māori, Pacific, European, and Asian.
Te Papa was delighted to share these significant works from our collection with a national and international audience.
Five black paintings. A red piano. In this exhibition, the works of two leading artists from two generations came together, conversing in colour, sound, and ideas.
In the early 1960s, Ralph Hotere became the first Māori artist to be embraced by New Zealand’s art mainstream. His poetic black paintings are among his best known. In 2011, Michael Parekowhai represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale, with this piano as his central work.
But the obvious success of both artists is only part of what resonated in the exhibition. Both also aim to actively engage the audience, and each makes the complex seem effortless.
Mā te tuakana ka tōtika te teina; mā te teina ka tōtika te tuakana.
By the older person, the younger learns; by the younger person, the older learns.
This exhibition was an extraordinary installation of 67 framed photographic prints and seven large photographic murals of images taken in 1884 by Alfred Burton of the noted Dunedin photography firm Burton Bros.
Alfred Burton was a passenger on the Union Steam Ship Company’s SS Wairarapa on its first winter tourist excursion into the Pacific. The exhibition followed the journey of the Wairarapa from Auckland through the islands of Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.
The interpretation was developed with three unique voices. There were extracts from Alfred Burton’s diary of the trip and newspaper comments that gave the view of the times – the ‘colonial lens’. The curatorial commentary gave context to the happenings of the time, the photographer, and the images. Contemporary responses to the images were expressed by leading Pacific scholars and writers from each of the nations visited.
This was a high-quality exhibition of intriguing images with an imaginative and insightful interpretation, appealing to visitors interested in social history, the South Pacific, maritime history, and photography.
The exhibition was developed by Wellington Museum (formerly Museum of Wellington City & Sea) in partnership with Te Papa.