Reviews, News and Commentary

Sculptures and Projects at the Aotearoa Art Fair

John Daly-Peoples

Aotearoa Art Fair Sculpture

The sculpture display at the Aotearoa art fair is always worthy of a visit with many of our major sculptors exhibition along with never before seen works. There are works by  Fred Graham, Simon Lewis Wards, Monique Lacey, Paul Dibble, Gregor Kregar, Semisi Fetokai Potauaine and Nathan Hull

Fred Graham, Kaitiaki 

This is a smaller version of the large public commission Kaitiaki, 2004 by the artist which is in the Auckland Domain adjacent to the Auckland War Memoral Museum The 12 metres high work and has become a landmark acting as a kaitiaki (guardian) of the lands of Ngāti Whātua.

His smaller-scale Kaitiaki, stands 5.5 metres high and  is in an edition of three

With an artistic career spanning over 65 years, many public commissions and important works in national collections, and time spent travelling and working with artists internationally, Graham is an honoured Kaumatua and recognised artist statesman who has made a tremendous contribution to the arts in New Zealand.

Simon Lewis Wards, Giant Knucklebones

Cast concrete, 1500 x 1000 x 500mm each

With the Giant Knucklebones I wanted to explore how scale influences the viewing experience. Each knucklebone weighs in at around 300kg, I hoped the enormity of the pieces would shrink the viewer to childlike proportions, magnifying feelings of nostalgia which is a common theme in my work.

Aotearoa Art Fair Projects

This year the Aotearoa Art Fair has commissioned seven artists from across the country to reflect upon our inherited understandings of land, geography, and national identity.

Through the mediums of carving, print, photography, recording, moving image, and virtual reality, the artists draw upon the rich, complex, and nuanced histories, stories, and personalities to offer a forum to explore, critique, and, at times, better our paradoxical relationship to each other and the outside world

Projects is a curated exhibition designed to showcase the diversity of contemporary practitioners working across Aotearoa and the Pacific. These responses are installed throughout The Cloud, Yu Mei  and the Britomart precinct from 16–20 November. This edition is curated by Michael Do.

Among the projects on offer are:

Miranda Bellamy and Amanda Fauteux, slew, slough, slueReclaimed kahikatea timber, butter.

Miranda Bellamy and Amanda Fauteux’s sculptural installation explores the interconnected relationship between Aotearoa’s native kahikatea trees and the history of New Zealand’s butter export industry. The work emerges from the artist’s research into the history of Queens Wharf, where the Fair takes place, and of the first shipments of New Zealand butter which were sent from wharfs across the motu in the 1880s in boxes made from kahikatea. By 1917 the British government was purchasing all of New Zealand’s exportable butter, cementing New Zealand’s status as world’s largest exporter of butter.  

Using found Kahikatea planks the artists have created a ”booth”, similar to the commercial booths in the fair, to display a series of moulded butter sculptures that reference hawsers (ship ropes), wharf cleats, and bollards, objects with an association to shipping and wharfs. 

Our practice is in conversation with the overlooked meanings and stories held within material aspects of the everyday. slew, slough, slue brings forward the intersecting stories of kahikatea, butter, and the site of Queens Wharf. In listening to the stories of plants, we look to understand what it means to be in the world.

We are attuned to the stories held within the materials that we use. Through the reclaimed floorboards, we consider their decades and centuries in the wetlands of Te Waipounamu, their time as a villa floor in early colonial Ōtautahi, to be cracked and broken during the earthquakes, before being saved from the firewood pile and making their way to us.”

Ziggy Lever, Amalgamated Brick and Pipe
Mixed media installation.

Amalgamated Brick and Pipe is conceived as an archive, combining sound, image, text and sculpture to create a system which explores the, now destroyed, Clark Brick and Pipe Works in Hobsonville-Point, west of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Building upon his sculptural practice and interest in New Zealand history, Ziggy Lever‘s installation centres the detritus of the factory, tracking its legacy of contaminating the nearby shoreline with ceramic waste from the factory. Scattered across the bays, ceramic objects weather, grow barnacles and host the mangroves taking root around them. Making comment on history, industry and nature, Lever’s work invites careful critique and examination into national narratives of this New Zealand industry success. 

“Upon a visit to the site in 2013, it struck me that these objects were going through a process of returning to clay. Removing some of the objects from the site, I wondered how this act might affect their relationship to time, and both preserve the state of the “amalgamated brick and pipe” and interrupt its material journey. Here there is a parallel to the problems of archaeological intervention, which seek to preserve certain aspects of an historical site yet affect other aspects of the site itself.”

Arapeta, Aloma in Velvet (exhibited in The Cloud and at Britomart).

Aloma in Velvet transposes the artist’s ongoing project of carving heru, Māori ornamental wood or bone combs, into a series of photographic interventions across the Cloud and Britomart. These large format images depict the artist’s combs placed against rich, blue velvet. Drawing upon their whakapapa and understanding of heru, a r a p e t a  renders their ancestral knowledge into contemporary contexts, emphasising the importance of story, symbiosis and solidarity as tools to enlarge and expand the way Māori culture can take up space in the world.

The artist states, “Aloma in Velvet is a love letter to my Kuia (Grandmothers) who had held the space for the nurturing of new generations in my whānau (family). Heru became a prevalent reference point of this creative body of work as symbols and indicators of matriarchal lineage and succession of legacy practices.”

Daegan Wells, Local Makers
Mixed media installation.

Local Makers pays homage to the stories of a small clothing factory in Riverton, in the South Island of New Zealand from the 1940s – 1980s. After learning of their heartening stories, including that workers would take scrap pieces of fabric to construct hats and clothes for their families, Daegan Wells has made a series of textile works which remember, recognise and comment on the changing face of New Zealand’s primary industry and the communities which serviced it. In mirroring their efforts of the handmade and local sourced materials, the artist has used muka, natural dyed linens and wool that he has cultivated from animal to yarn in his home in Southland, which forms a key part of his textile practice. 

“I met a local woman who told me about a clothing factory that operated in Riverton. She had undertaken an apprenticeship at the factory in the 1970s, making school uniforms and utility clothing. The factory mostly hired women; however, a few local men had been employed as pattern cutters and fabric designers. This meeting was notable to me because of a recent conversation with my partner where it was suggested that I get a ‘real/full-time job’, moving away from the arts towards something more financially stable. This was frustrating at the time, primarily because of the lack of employment options within small-town Aotearoa. Historically, most small towns had many different types of industries that manufactured and produced various products. However, this decreased in the 1980s with a shift towards overseas manufacturing.”

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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