The curator of one of Aotearoa's largest ever exhibitions that saw over 300 pieces of contemporary Māori art on display now has a new exhibition opening in Auckland.
After successfully holding Toi tu toi ora at Auckland Art Gallery, Nigel Borell now has a new exhibition opening today at Tautai Gallery on Karangahape Road.
Borell of Pirirakau, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi and Te Whakatōhea tribal, departed with Auckland Art Gallery at the end of last year and has since collaborated with Tautai Gallery to present 'Moana waiwai, Moana Pati'.
It is an exhibition of art from Tangata Moana, people of the pacific.
The exhibition celebrates the diversity of Pacific creatives, and includes film, digital image-making, painting, tatau, poetic prose, sonic landscapes and performance.
'Moana waiwai, Moana pati' represents works from nine out of 20 Auckland-based artists and is distinct as the artworks were created out of the experiences of the artists during the 2020-2021 Covid-19 lockdowns.
The 20 artists were part of a fale-ship, where they were encouraged and supported by Tautai to continue to pursue their creative paths, despite the adversity and separation of the lockdown period.
Borell said the fale-ship was an opportunity for the artists to navigate isolation while continuing to tell stories and share perspectives incubated during that time at home.
"It allows for that most vital of functions: supporting our artists and their art-making to be present and to have voice. And just like the unpredictable tides of this pandemic, it has also brought about new opportunities to create and contemplate," Borell said.
"Collectively these artists present ideas that express aspirations, reflections and experiences that mark this moment in time."
Ashleigh Taupaki is a Māori and Samoan artist who explores many disciplines, including hard materials, photography, illustration and writing.
Recently graduating with a Masters in fine art, her work explores concepts related to connections with land, body and identity as well as kaitiakitanga, turangawaewae and collaboration with natural resources.
She has titled her collection Paradise, which pays homage to her grandmother and their home in the islands. That is where Taupaki said her grandmother yearned to be during isolation.
Empathising for her grandmother and the homesick feelings she was experiencing, Taupaki was inspired and decided to create artwork that could perhaps provide a sense of comfort and healing for her grandmother.
She said creating art during lockdown meant she had to adapt.
"I look a lot at oral tradition from both sides (of her heritage) and that comes a lot from memory, my own memory but also my grandmothers memory or the perceived memory of my ancestors"
"A lot of it also comes from the land and my connections to that."
Tautai director Courtney Sina Meredith said the gallery was focused on celebrating pacific creativity in all its many forms.
"During the Covid-19 lockdowns, our priority was to support our artistic community to make, create and connect. The unique circumstances of isolation has impacted creative work in a number of ways. This year, our focus as an organisation is to redress the isolation of those lockdowns and work to bring our community back together, into our gallery space, to share work, talanoa and celebrate all that is Pacific creativity."
Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust has provided a sense of community and belonging for tangata moana for over 30 years.
Meredith said it was now grown to be Aotearoa's leading pacific arts organisation.
"We're readlly here to champion contemporary, creative, pacific people"
"It's not just about art though, we're also here transforming attitudes around excellence in our communities, we're here as a place for people to reconnect with culture as well and with one another," she said.
Moana Waiwai, Moana Pāti poetically translates to From Open Seas to Shallow Waters.
Borell said all the works were uniquely different and have shown a sense of connection despite having been created while in isolation.
"The moana, being the thing that I suppose inclusively locates us all, the pacific."
"From moving image to poetic prose, from sonic landscapes to Moana manifestos - the presentations here remind us of the diverse and multifaceted ways in which Moana creatives express their relationship to place and people. These changing tides, as rocky as they may have been, also bring with them opportunity for new journeys and experiences. The work of the artists in Moana Waiwai, Moana Pāti are testament to the power of that renewal," Borell said.
The exhibition will be on display at Tautai Gallery for public viewing from Saturday, 12 June - Saturday, 25 September.