A new exhibition ‘Tuturu’ is open to the public today. This exhibition is a collaboration between the museum and local arts collective Iwi Toi Kahungunu. Iwi Toi was formed in 2015 and one of its aims is to raise the profile of its artists and give them opportunities to exhibit their work publically.
Last year, members of Iwi Toi approached the museum with a proposal to celebrate the artistic talent of Ngati Kahungunu. The aim was to have ‘Tuturu’ open during the Kahungunu Festival and Te Haaro o te Kaahu Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival, when there will a huge influx of visitors hosted by Ngati Kahungunu. This is one of several exhibitions on show over this time, including ‘Iwitoi Kahungunu’ at Hastings City Art Gallery (also a collaboration with the collective), and ‘Taikura Kurupounamu’ at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Hastings.
It’s been a great experience to work alongside the group and a real shift from the usual exhibition development process. The majority of exhibitions at the museum are developed in-house. Curators conceptualise exhibition ideas, manage community relationships, research and write; the collections team manage loans and object care; while the design team generate graphic and physical design. In the development of ‘Tuturu’, Iwi Toi has been part of each stage of the decision-making.
Iwi Toi members selected 14 artworks, by Michelle Nicholls, Dena Bach, Miria Pohatu, Michelle Mataira, Marama Ngawhika, Raewyn Paterson, Todd Couper, Israel Birch, Eugene Kara, Hemi Macgregor, Wilray Price, Glen Hauraki, Sandy Adsett and Shanon Hawea. Each artwork is a very personal representation of what is ‘tuturu’: true, authentic, unique, for the artist.
Between the artworks there are tukutuku panels, which will eventually be installed in a wharenui (meeting house) called Te Huki, in Raupunga, northern Hawke’s Bay. These panels connect the artworks and give a unified feel to the exhibition. The tukutuku were woven by Waiariki Kara, Margery Joe, Nellie Adsett, Elizabeth Hunkin, Vilma Hapi, Francis Clark, Tangi Taunoa, Julie Kira, Rene Stuart, Koaea Pene, Maraea Aranui, Jan Huata and Kathleen Miria.
Senior local artist, Sandy Adsett, worked closely with the museum’s design team to determine the exhibition layout, colours and typography. Some of the ‘rules’ a gallery generally follows have been broken. Walls are usually kept plain, with simple background colours; whereas on the walls in ‘Tuturu’ six different colours have been used on individual panels to which the artworks are mounted. With 14 artworks, six panel colours and 14 tukutuku panels the gallery feels rich and vibrant. The viewer is given a deep sense of wairua (spiritual connection) as well as a physical sense of being in a wharenui, full of the stories of a people.
Introductory exhibition text has been co-written with collective member Dena Bach. Each artist has written their own biographical information, as well as a short paragraph about the artwork they’ve contributed. These personal statements allow the audience insight into the artists’ strong connections with whakapapa, iwi, and whenua (genealogy, tribe and the land). Rather than having an objective museum voice, ‘Tuturu’ shares a diversity of perspectives, highlighting both connections and individuality.
During the exhibition opening this morning, Iwi Toi paid tribute to Dame Georgina Kingi, whose contributions to education were acknowledged in the recent New Year Honours.
Working on ‘Tuturu’ was a really lovely way to finish off my time here at MTG, before I head off to join the team at Hastings City Art Gallery in a couple of weeks.
Tryphena Cracknell – Curator of Taonga Maori, MTG Hawke’s Bay
Published in Hawke’s Bay Today Saturday 11 February 2017