Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art wows audiences at Auckland Art Gallery

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Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art wows audiences at Auckland Art Gallery
Fiona Pardington, Davis Kea Wings (above), 2015. Courtesy of the Artist and Starkwhite, Auckland.

AUCKLAND.- In the largest exhibition ever presented by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art offers insights into the development of Māori art from the 1950s to the present day. The first major exhibition of its kind in nearly 20 years, Toi Tū Toi Ora is informed by a Māori worldview, and includes more than 300 artworks, exploring cultural histories, Māori knowledge, identity and place.

Spanning 70 years with work by 111 artists, Toi Tū Toi Ora presents both an aspiration and a challenge to realise a future in which contemporary Māori art continues to stand tall – toi tū – and healthy – toi ora – while reinforcing the wisdom and ideas that empower Māori and Indigenous ways of knowing.

Showcasing iconic artworks by some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant artists – Ralph Hotere, Lonnie Hutchinson, Robyn Kahukiwa, Mere Harrison Lodge, Merata Mita, Buck Nin, Fiona Pardington, Michael Parekowhai, James Ormsby, Lisa Reihana, Rachael Rakena, Peter Robinson, Wi Taepa, Cliff Whiting, Arnold Manaaki Wilson, Pauline Yearbury, and more – Toi Tū Toi Ora includes painting, sculpture, printmaking, clay-making, jewellery and body adornment, photography, digital media, film and installation art.

Nigel Borell (Pirirākau, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Te Whakatōhea), Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Curator, Māori Art, says: ‘Toi Tū Toi Ora is organised around the Māori creation narrative as a way to enter into a conversation about the importance of Māori art and artists, and to explore what unites these artists across space and time.’

‘As visitors explore the exhibition, they will literally step into the creation story, beginning with Te Kore (the great nothingness) before traveling through to Te Po (the darkness), then the separation of Ranginui and Papatūāknuku before entering Te Ao Mārama (the world of light and life).’

Kirsten Lacy, Director, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, says: ‘This is a spirited and celebratory exhibition that sees the Gallery dedicated to showcasing a distinct and important art movement, both within Aotearoa New Zealand and a global context. Contemporary Māori art, like Māori culture, is nuanced, vibrant and diverse. Toi Tū Toi Ora is a crucial update to the story of the art of our country. We warmly invite all New Zealanders to take pride in Māori creativity and to explore the Māori creation narrative in a new way. This is a free exhibition for everyone to enjoy and we hope visitors will leave full of heart.’

To be unveiled over the duration of the exhibition, Toi Tū Toi Ora will include major new artworks that have been commissioned by artists from around Aotearoa New Zealand.

The commissions include an interactive exhibition in the Gallery’s family-friendly Creative Learning Centre by Charlotte Graham; a new installation by Ana Iti on the Gallery’s exterior sculpture terrace, connecting the Gallery with nearby Albert Park; and a major new work by Reuben Paterson to be installed in the Gallery’s forecourt pool next year.

In the Gallery’s prominent North Atrium, an installation by Emily Karaka is the largest artist commission of her career. The windows of the Gallery’s South Atrium, meanwhile, are the location for a colourful, two-storey-high installation by Sandy Adsett who explores kōwhaiwhai in his work Puhoro, 2020.

A new, two-storey-high installation work based on the female deity Hine-nui-te-po has been produced by Mata Aho Collective in collaboration with artist Maureen Lander; and in the Gallery’s historic Mackelvie Gallery, Shane Cotton has co-curated an exhibition room that will place work by contemporary Māori artists alongside the Gallery’s historical art collection and an exciting new commission work from the artist himself.

Other major new works shown for the first time have been produced by Reweti Arapere; Shona Rapira-Davies; Matekino Lawless and Christina Horihia Wirihana; Te Rongo Kirkwood; Ngataiharuru Taepa; Areta Wilkinson and more.

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