Matarau — art as compass on display

At City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi





City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi’s upcoming exhibition Matarau responds to our turbulent times and explores the role that art can play in navigating new found complexities of everyday life. Matarau is a group exhibition of contemporary Ma¯ori art, guest curated by Walters Prize-winning Po¯neke artist, writer and curator, Shannon Te Ao. It features Paeka¯ka¯riki artist Hemi Macgregor, a Ma¯ori visual artist who works predominantly in painting and installation. The exhibition features all new work, also including work by Robyn Kahukiwa, Emily Karaka, Ming Ranginui, Kei te pai press, and James Tapsell-Kururangi. Curator Shannon Te Ao describes the exhibition as, “visually fun — big on scale and ambition. “Matarau follows a number of exhibitions in Aotearoa that are highlighting the significance of Ma¯ori art — this is part of that bigger picture.” The word Matarau refers to a multi-pronged spear used for fishing and eeling by early Ma¯ori. As a hunter or wayfinder must understand the shifting conditions around them to fulfil their purpose, the artists in Matarau draw from a strong sense of who and where they are as a compass for their own practice. “Historically, art has acted as a lens which to help understand the in world more clearly, and as our daily lives become more unpredictable, contemporary artists offer a vital way to comprehend this turbulent time.” The exhibition includes new, largescale works exploring themes from politics and economic mobility, to the environment, whakapapa and love. Shannon said the artists, all at different stages of their careers, have resonated strongly with the themes of the exhibition. “This show displays a range of responses to the present day, touching on the uncertainty we have collectively endured these past few years.” Art and heritage director Elizabeth Caldwell said City Gallery is delighted to stage this visually generous exhibition which brings together emerging and established artists across the generations. “Matarau is noteworthy in that it is curated by and carries the artistic sensibility of Shannon Te Ao — one of our most prominent contemporary artists — and is strongly grounded in Te Whanganuia-Tara.” Matarau is accompanied by Tai Timu! Tai Pari! The Tide Ebbs, the Tide Flows — a collection of recent artists’ film and video curated by Shannon in collaboration with CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand. The works respond to indigenous histories and current discourse through an array of filmic languages. They explore issues such as language revitalisation, the commodification of natural resources, indigenous representation within film histories, and queer narratives. Tai Timu! Tai Pari! will be screened in the gallery auditorium.