Resettle 23 August - 16 September 2017
The three large hand-carved beechwood discs in this exhibition operate as memorials to resettlement and migration - both universal and particular. Each work conflates the personal and political and speaks to a specific moments in New Zealand history when peaceful settlement was disrupted - each moment having particular personal resonance for the artist. Each work is titled by geographical co-ordinates rather than place name and reference,
Brett Graham, who is of the Tainui tribe, Ngati Koroki Kahukura, is a prominent contemporary New Zealand artist highly regarded for his ability to abstract complex political, historical and cultural ideas into strong sculptural, frequently abstract, form. His practice melds contemporary art with Maori content and form - frequently drawing on traditional carving. What unites his all his work both materially and conceptually is a commitment to making work that promotes a Maori worldview.
Brett's work has been included in exhibitions all over the world. Highlights include the Venice Biennale 2007, the Sydney Biennale 2006 and 2010 and the 2013 survey of international indigenous art at the National Gallery of Canada. He has an exhibition at the McKenzie Art Gallery in Regina Canada from early September until the end of January.
Brett has a doctorate in Fine Arts from the University of Auckland and an MFA from the University of Hawaii. His work is in public and private collections around the world the National Gallery of Canada, the National Gallery of Australia and Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. He has also produced several major public artworks throughout New Zealand including the major granite work Kaiwhakatere: The Navigator next to Parliament Buildings Wellington. Brett has undertaken artist residencies in Switzerland, the United States (New York and Hawaii), Canada and Australia.
37 47 S 175 17 E (Sydney Square) is a recreation area in a city called Hamilton, just south of where I live. The land for the city was confiscated during the 'Maori Wars', against my tribe, and land given to the soldiers as their payment and reward. 2500 Australians had answered the call of the New Zealand Government, supported by the Australian Government, to put down the 'rebel Maoris'. Sydney Square is named after the city from which many of them came.
39 30 S 173 83 E (Parihaka) is a village where after large scale confiscations by the government, Maori 'prophets' Te Whiti and Tohu advocated the ploughing of land and removal of government surveyors pegs to proclaim their rightful ownership. Eventually the Government sent in 1600 troops and were met by passive resistance, children sitting down on the road and so on. Many off the men were imprisoned and sent to Dunedin for hard labour.
My great-great grandfather is buried here.
38 11 S 177 05 E (Ruatoki) is a small village in an isolated part of the north island of New Zealand where (2007), the police cordoned off the town and searched private houses and buses believing that the local tribe had acted unlawfully and breached the new Anti Terrorism Act. Although some firearms were found (used for hunting) no one was eventually charged.
Installation view 1