Open today is Hastings City Art Gallery’s exhibition ‘EAST’, showing a vibrant array of creative works by 23 artists and designers who each have a connection to Hawke’s Bay. EAST recurs every two years yet is always unique, with this year’s show extending beyond the Hastings gallery walls and – for the first time – into MTG. We are pleased to host the work of three participants and have enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with guest curator Bruce E. Phillips, staff at the gallery, and of course the artists.
A video playing near the sea-facing window upstairs features Jacob Scott (Te Arawa, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Kahungunu) giving insight into his landscape design aspects of the Marine Parade Redevelopment: how the new space incorporates stories of mana whenua while encouraging positive interaction between people and the land.
Meanwhile, Auckland-based artist Natalie Robertson (Ngāti Porou) has hung an expansive black and white work on the wall in the main foyer, capturing the attention of all those who enter the museum. It is a photograph of a spring, taken at sunrise, with ferns dipping below the perfectly still surface of the water. Drawn by family connections, Natalie went searching for this particular spring at Te Rimu, near the Waiapu River on the East Cape. Her great-great-great-grandparents lived nearby, and Tikapa Marae, Natalie’s ancestral meeting house, can be seen from the spring.
A partner photograph titled ‘Puketapu’ hangs at Hastings City Art Gallery, tracing the subsequent migration of Natalie’s forebears south to Heretaunga. Her great-great grandfather, George Gillespie Boyd, bought the nearby Silverford mansion from the proceeds of his extensive real estate portfolio. Natalie describes how he made his retirement money in 1913 by purchasing 30 acres at Poraiti, then selling the land in sections two years later. In this way, he and his family profited from the system of Crown-imposed land laws, yet descendants such as Natalie also experience the dispossession caused by those same laws – and for which the Crown has since apologised. In the Heretaunga Tamatea Claims Settlement Bill, the Crown “offers its profound apologies for its actions that alienated you from the whenua that had sustained your ancestors for generations, and deprived you of access to your lakes, rivers, wetlands, and springs.” Which leads back to why Natalie was searching for the spring at Te Rimu.
The third EAST artist at MTG, George Tamihana Nuku (Ngāti Hinemanu, Ngāi Te Upokoiri), is also displaying art at both sites. His ‘Bottled River’ installation is now on show at Hastings, while the related full exhibition at MTG ‘George Nuku: Bottled Ocean 2118’ will open to the public on Friday 24 this month. This week George has been busy creating artworks out of plastic with the help of school groups, and with thanks to all those who have brought in their used bottles. He often shares some pieces of advice with the kids – one of which seems to particularly resonate with them. “You need three things to be a great artist: a pencil, a pencil sharpener, and a rubber. Always keep your pencil sharp, and likewise your thoughts. Sharpen your thoughts as you sharpen your pencil, every day.”
- Chamber Music NZ presents Italy’s Ensemble Zefiro, playing 17th and 18th century woodwind instruments. MTG Century Theatre, Thursday 16 August 7:30pm, tickets $5.50.
- Artist talk with George Nuku through his exhibition ‘Bottled Ocean 2118.’ MTG Hawke’s Bay, Saturday 25 August 11am, all welcome, free entry.
- Talk, walk and beach clean with curator Jess Mio, starting in the ‘Bottled Ocean 2118’ exhibition. Gloves and bags supplied. MTG Hawke’s Bay, Saturday 1 September 10am, all welcome, free entry.
Image caption: SPRING FOUND: ‘Te Rimu’ by Natalie Robertson, digital photographic print, 2018
Jess Mio, Curator – Art, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 11th August 2018