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Standing tall

Visitors to Auckland Art Gallery exhibition, Tu Toi Ora: Contemporary Maori Art, literally step into tangata whenua's creation story, says curator Nigel Borell.

That story begins with Te Kore (the great nothingness), travelling through to Te Po (the darkness), followed by the separation of Ranginui and Papatuanuku before entering Te Ao Marama (the world of light and life).

“Toi Tu Toi Ora is organised around the Maori creation narrative as a way to enter into a conversation about the importance of Maori art and artists, and to explore what unites these artists across space and time,” says Borell.

The major survey of contemporary Maori art from the 1950s to the present day is Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki's largest exhibition ever. It showcases artworks by artists such as Ralph Hotere, Lonnie Hutchinson, Robyn Kahukiwa, Mere Harrison Lodge, Merata Mita, Buck Nin, Fiona Pardington, Michael Parekowhai, James Ormsby, Lisa Reihana, Rachael Rakena, Peter Robinson, Wi Taepa, Cliff Whiting, Arnold Manaaki Wilson, and Pauline Yearbury.

Toi Tu Toi Ora will include new artworks that will be unveiled during the exhibition's season.

Commissions include an interactive exhibition by Charlotte Graham; a new installation by Ana Iti on the gallery's exterior sculpture terrace, and a new work by Reuben Paterson, which will be installed in the gallery's forecourt pool.

An installation by Emily Karaka will go into the gallery's north atrium while Sandy Adsett's exploration of kowhaiwhai, Puhoro, will feature as a colourful, two-storey-high installation in the south atrium windows.

A new, two-storey-high installation work based on the deity Hine-nui-te-po has been produced by Mata Aho Collective in collaboration with artist Maureen Lander.

In the gallery's Mackelvie Gallery, Shane Cotton has co-curated an exhibition room that will place work by contemporary Maori artists alongside the gallery's historical art collection.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by a Toi Tu Toi Ora satellite site in the Britomart precinct, developed in partnership with the Britomart Group, which will include four new public artworks by Shane Cotton, Lonnie Hutchinson, Charlotte Graham and Lyonel Grant.

MAHUIKA: Part of Lisa Reihana's 'digital marae' series, Mahuika depicts the goddess of fire (right). 'The photographs, which used Reihana's family and friends as models, are printed on two-metre-high aluminium sheets, says online encyclopaedia Te Ara. 'Reihana uses digital media to create portable symbols of ancestral figures, which were historically found as carvings on a marae but have become distant to generations of urbanised Maori.'
RIPEKA WHERO: This work is from Robert Jahnke's Ripeka series. Jahnke's work, Ripeka Kahurangi, explored the creation narrative of Te Kore, while Ripeka Whero and Ripeka Kowhai convey ideas in relation to Te Po and Te Ao Marama, says an Auckland Art Gallery outline. 'Robert Jahnke reflects on whakapapa as the ultimate Maori system of order while also echoing the Maori philosophical concept of continuous time and, like the mirrored reflections they present, infinite possibilities. The works are influenced by the artists Paolo Scirpa (Italian) and Ivan Navarro (Chilean) whose sculptures use light and reflection techniques.'
TANE MAHUTA: Artist Ngataiharuru Taepa uses composite woods, and cuts them into interlocking patterns 'that with unique rhythmic identity, capture the essence of master carver and sculptor Manos Nathan, says an Auckland Art Gallery webpage. 'Tane Mahuta — Manos Nathan Legacy, 2015 is an innovative approach to customary kowhaiwhai (painted rafter) design.'Pictures supplied