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Honourable mention for Gisborne artist

A charcoal and graphite drawing of his 4x great grandfather on his father’s side has earned Toihoukura, Maori art and design school student Nathaniel Nathan an honourable mention from judges of the inaugural Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture Award.

The kaupapa of the award was to create an artwork with whakapapa connections to the tupuna (ancestors) depicted in the work.

Unable to find much information about his 4x great grandfather, a Ngapuhi chief, Nathan drew from a dilapidated photograph in the family archives.

The picture was taken by 19th century photographer Elizabeth Pulman, New Zealand’s first female professional photographer.

The portrait awards were an awesome opportunity for emerging artists, Nathan told Radio Ngati Porou.

Because his work at Toihoukura has been around portraiture, he saw the awards as an opportunity, he said.

The portrait is rendered in charcoal and graphite.

“I started out with a white piece of paper and put a whole bunch of black on it and that’s what we ended up with.”

He included as much of his tupuna’s ta moko as he could see in the photograph and what he couldn’t see he left out.

“Growing up in Australia there wasn’t a lot about te ao Maori. It was hard for me to connect to my tupuna or my culture.”

Professor Derek Lardelli’s guidance helped him connect with his culture, he said.

“Knowing there is a deeper meaning in kowhaiwhai and ta moko is more than intriguing. It is everything that came before us and that allows us to be here today.

“I have tupuna who expressed themselves though art and that’s what I’m doing now.”

While Waikato artist Bodie Friend was winner of the 2021 Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture Award and a $20,000 cash prize with his work Nana, a photograph depicting his great-uncle Pat Kingi, Nathan still has a chance of landing the People’s Choice Award which comes with a cash prize of $2500. The People’s Choice Award will be announced at the close of the exhibition on August 15.

A partnership between Kiingitanga and the NZ Portrait Gallery Te Pukenga Whakaata, the award was launched last year in honour of Kiingi Tuheitia.

Emerging Maori artists were tasked with creating an artwork using any visual medium, with whakapapa connections to the depicted tupuna.

The finalist artworks were judged by a distinguished panel comprising renowned artists at the opening of the exhibition.

These include tohunga ta moko and kapa haka exponent Sir Derek Lardelli, celebrated artist, teacher and activist, Kura Te Waru Rewiri and artist Lisa Reihana, who is known around the world for her portraits and digital art.

Further information on the award and exhibition can be found at nzportraitgallery.org.nz/kiingituheitiaaward

TE WHARE TEKAU MA TAHI: Second year Toihoukura student Nathaniel Nathan’s charcoal and graphite portrait has earned an honourable mention from judges of the inaugural Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture Award. Picture supplied