Plot 150 | 2 - 26 April 2014
Brett Graham's circular limestone discs with their carved inscriptions suggest notions of ruins and runes. Like crop circles that seemingly mysteriously appear in the landscape, these stones, with their creamy smooth surfaces, are at once ethereal and solidly material. They mark the land as tangible remnants of a history or tale accessible to those who can decipher the signs.
As any follower of Brett Graham's work will know, there is always a historical or political narrative embodied in his work. Sometimes the story is quite specific, as in this case and as with Aniwaniwa - a sculptural and video installation developed in collaboration with video artist Rachael Rakena telling the story of the flooding of the village of Horahora to make way for the Karapiro Dam. What unites his practice both materially and conceptually is a commitment to making work that promotes a Maori worldview.
Each work in this exhibition recalls a specific military redoubt located between Auckland and Waikato - the redoubts being the forts from where the British and colonial troops set out to overcome Maori resistance to the settlers' desire for land. They also chart the path of the British troops from St John's redoubt (Plot 1), after which Redoubt Road in Manukau City is named, to Pirongia (Plot 6) in the Waikato. Many of these redoubts exist to this day. Growing up in South Auckland and the Waikato, Graham, who belongs to the Waikato iwi, Ngati Koroki Kahukura, was very aware of these tangible remnants of the invasion of Maori lands and the associated confiscation of almost one million acres.
Plot 150 is Brett Graham's contribution to the commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Waikato wars of 1863-64. "The ongoing messages of the redoubts entered our psyche subconsciously. I felt compelled to make these works, lest we forget."
Brett Graham is one of New Zealand's most accomplished sculptors with an impressive exhibition history. Aniwaniwa, was shown at the 2007 Venice Biennale and most recently in Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada. Brett is currently in New York on Creative New Zealand's visual arts residency at the ISCP (International Studio and Curatorial Program).
Plot 1 (St Johns)
size: 400 mm diameter
media: St Hubert Limestone