Sunday, 20 November 2016

What is my Culture? Three Paintings by Justine D'Anvers.

After painter Justine's children had been asked to consider their Mihi and Culture at school she started to ask herself the question:  "As a post-colonial born and bred Northland woman: What is my Culture.?" 

She went on to explore this theme in three paintings which are currently being exhibited in an exhibition of NZ Outsider Art  at Lakehouse Arts Centre called "Women's Voices."

A high proportion of Maori live in Northland, her home, and this has influenced her perception of who she is and where she fits in her community.

In each of her paintings the tiki appears. In Maori mythology the tiki symbolises the first man on earth. A carved greenstone (pounamu) hei-tiki necklace was  also worn as a fertility symbol by women . These days it is worn as a taonga  and it has also been adopted as an iconic image by all New Zealanders.

In her first painting a Ngapuhi chieftainess, Ina ( Ena) Te Papatahi appears as a shadowy figure .Her spirit infuses the painting . This is a copy of a Goldie portrait but in that painting the old kuia was sitting on the steps of a whare whakairo (a carved meeting house)

Here she is framed instead by a mat woven from harakake (flax) .This is women's art ( while the art of carving was the domain of men) so this is her story

On her face a moko has been carved but she has chosen to wear European clothing linking both cultures. 

Her expression is both tired and pensive, She has experienced many changes.In her lifetime in spite of the Treaty wars were waged and a great deal of Maori land was unfairly taken .

But in the foreground, looking brighter and more animated is a greenstone tiki which promises new life . 

In her second  painting a tiki, with button eyes, is at the centre of a quilt. His body merges into the patchwork squares which fill the picture plane.

This painting was inspired by memories of childhood. Justine's mother loves fabric and was a quilt maker.

But it could also be read as a way of showing that although we have many different histories we are  connected through our common humanity.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Echoes of Gondwana-The memories beneath our feet at the Lakehouse

Susannah Macdonald's 'Echoes of Gondwana -The memories beneath my feet has just opened at the Lakehouse Arts centre in Takapuna and is well worth a visit.

I was at the opening and really enjoyed meeting Susannah and viewing her artworks.
She has long been fascinated with the theory of Gondwana and the seismic and geological forces which split the continent and separated us from Australia.

She is also  fascinated by  the knowledge that New Zealand was once part of the sunken continent of Zealandia, and has been endeavouring to capture the essence of these movements in this series of paintings,

Susannah has  been drawing on the idea that human memory of these forces at work , may give rise to mythology. Conversely she asks, does the consciousness reflected in mythology bring about these changes.

This exhibition: Echoes of Gondwana - The memories beneath our feet: by Susannah MacDonald will be on in the Lakehouse Arts Centre from Wednesday August 3-Sunday August 28


Monday, 6 June 2016

Auckland Festival of Photography: The Struggle for Women's Rights.

As part of the Festival of Photography there is a stunning thought provoking exhibition of photographs by Sharifa Karimi in the Becroft Gallery in the Lakehouse Arts Centre in Takapuna called 'Hasti ? Are you there. Hastam. I am here."

Sharifa Karimi aims to create a discussion around the circumstances of women who are struggling for basic rights because of the traditionalism of their culture. Her work manifests the core of this issue. “I consider my process both analytical and intuitive. Analytical, because I examine the women’s rights issues in Asian countries and intuitive because I use my own knowledge and experience to draw upon."
Karimi explores gender equality in the roles of men and women in several different countries. Most importantly she highlights the extent and intensity of the cruelty many women go through on a daily basis. “It makes me extremely sad that these women live their whole lives as victims and the cycle continues with the next generation”
From her standpoint, although she has physically left her childhood home, the memories of the culture, the environment, and the people she was surrounded by have become part of her identity. Because of her circumstances she has been able to see the treatment of women from both a Middle Eastern and a Western point of view. 
This project is personally important to Karimi because she came from a part of the world where domestic abuse has become a norm. “Photography helps me make this reality known to people in Westernized cultures. I hope that, through my art I can give a voice to women and girls around the world who are being married as children or trafficked into forced labour and sex slavery.” 
In the countries that Karimi has included in her project such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, women have had no significant role in society. Although in some of these countries women are being given more rights and freedom with the progression of time, the issue of women’s rights is nowhere near to being resolved.
Part of the Auckland Festival of Photography

The exhibition runs from Wednesday June 2016-Sunday 26 June 2016.