Welcome to the spring edition of Bulletin. As I write, Te Rā: The Māori Sail has been with us at Te Puna o Waiwhetū for three weeks, and its presence continues to fill our building and hearts with a sense of warmth and wonder. It has been truly an honour to spend time with Te Rā, whose arrival and welcome was an incredibly important moment for Aotearoa. I felt very privileged to have experienced some of the excitement, joy and knowledge shared by so many during the wānanga and the opening weekend.
Te Rā at Christchurch Art Gallery
On 8 July 2023, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū opened Te Rā: The Māori Sail to the public. The opening was a celebratory event to which manuhiri travelled from around Aotearoa, excited by the opportunity to view the only known customary Māori sail in existence. The development of the exhibition required the knowledge and skills of numerous experts from the Gallery team and elsewhere in Aotearoa, Australia and England. This photo-essay documents the work that went into the installation, and some of the people that made it happen.
Supporting a Pacific Presence
In 2022, the Gallery received an extraordinary gift: fifty-seven works by thirty-two artists from the private collection of writer, researcher and lecturer Karen Stevenson. Of Tahitian heritage, Stevenson was raised in Los Angeles and moved to Ōtautahi Christchurch in 1995 to take up the position of lecturer in art history at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. She told Felicity Milburn just what the gift means to her.
Spring Time is Heart-break
In anticipation of our major summer exhibition, curatorial assistant Jane Wallace talked to five of the artists involved in the show. Working across a range of media, the twenty-five contemporary artists in Spring Time is Heart-break have a shared interest in storytelling. They consider ideas around communication, distance, memory, the body and materiality, generating works that gently reveal contemporary forms of image-making and circulation. How can we communicate through time, or in a different tongue? What do materials reveal to us as they are transformed from one state to another? From rimurapa harvesting to cavorting queer tableaux and fish ‘n’ chips, Heidi Brickell (Te Hika o Papauma, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tara, Rangitāne, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Apakura), Priscilla Rose Howe, Lucy Meyle, and Steven Junil Park and John Harris share their energetic practices – a small glimpse of what will be on display this November.
Flitting, Gliding, Strutting, Cavorting
Ranking highly among the privately-owned works of art that have fallen across this curator’s path is an exquisite late-Georgian era album of Indian bird watercolours. This significant, previously unpublished folio contains twenty-five delicate watercolours and three small lithographs. Most paintings were produced collaboratively in 1826 by an interesting couple, Elizabeth (Eliza) Jane D’Oyly and her husband Charles Walter D’Oyly, the latter recognised in India as “perhaps the most famous of the amateur British artists who depicted the Indian scene.” A treasured gift from Elizabeth to her sister Isabella Gilbert in 1866, the album has stayed in the same family since then. It also carries sombre themes alongside its splendours.
James Powell and Sons: St Mary Magdalene and Mary Mother of James at the Empty Tomb
You may be wondering why I chose this piece of art as my favourite. Perhaps you think it’s for the craftsmanship of the stained glass. Or maybe I’ve lost someone, and the artwork brings me comfort. But you’d be wrong. This piece of art, which was rescued from the Barbadoes Street Cemetery Chapel, triggers a memory.
Ka Oho te Taonga, Ka Oho te Tangata
In 2014, a team of University of Waikato researchers led by Linda Tuhiwai Smith CNZM travelled to Norway to present their research at the New Zealand Studies Association Conference, held at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo. The group included myself and Aroha Mitchell (researchers, artists and kairaranga), Rangi Mataamua (researcher and scholar of Māori astronomy) and Haki Tuaupiki (researcher, navigator/waka sailor).
Linda knew of my fascination with Te Rā and encouraged me to organise a visit to the British Museum while we were overseas. Emails flew back and forth between Aotearoa and London, and fortunately the times aligned and we arranged to spend two days at the museum documenting the construction of, and reflecting on the function of, this taonga.
Looking After Your Taonga
How do you care for textile-based artworks if you have them at home? Bulletin asked some experts for their tips and advice.
The Maureen Lander Archive
After nearly forty years as a practicing artist, Maureen Lander (Ngāpuhi, Te Hikutu, Pākehā) is developing a digital archive of photographs and related materials documenting her career to date. This has been made possible by the return of her daughter Kerry to Aotearoa New Zealand after twenty- three years in Australia. Assisted by Heritage Studios staff and funding from Creative New Zealand, Kerry is working to archive and digitise everything, which will eventually be available to the public. Maureen and Kerry share thoughts about the process so far.