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Art I’m Into: Nina Tonga, Curator Pacific Art

Text extract and image from Ten x Ten: Art at Te Papa, edited by Athol McCredie.

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Ani O’Neill, Star by night, 1994, black florist’s ribbon and thread. Te Papa (1997-0037-1)

Star by night, 1994, by Ani O’Neill

“The Pacific navigators who traversed Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean) had a sophisticated, experiential understanding of the world around them. In the open sea they charted their journeys using the ocean tides, currents, and swells as well as the clouds and winds above them. Central to this navigation system was their knowledge of the night sky: the stars, constellations, and their path along the horizon in a star compass.

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Cover detail of Ten x Ten: Art at Te Papa, edited by Athol McCredie, Te Papa Press, 2017.

Star by night by Ani O’Neill pays homage to this expert wayfinding and her ancestors’ awe-inspiring journey to Aotearoa. She creates hundreds of stars from black florist’s ribbon to create a shimmering night sky. When installed and backlit, the work casts thousands of shadows that envelop the viewer.”

Two women stand in a museum store room looking at objects in a drawer

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Curators Rebecca Rice and Nina Tonga, 2017. Photograph by Jane Ussher