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On our face / in your face

With brightly-coloured geometric forms held together by the grunge of chains, metal hooks, clasps and padlocks, Ngati Kahungunu artist Tori-Analee Houkamau’s Igor, a contemporary take on the hei-tiki, features in the Hastings City Art Gallery exhibition, te MOKO on our face/in your face.

Houkamau’s work is part of a collection of works of iwitoi Ngati Kahungunu: Maori Artists Collective. The collaborative offering is described as seeking to shine a light on the value of Maori art.

The iwi Ngati Kahungunu is located along the eastern coast of the North Island.

Works in the exhibition challenge the status quo that often overlooks and marginalises Maori art, says exhibition curator Sandy Adsett.

“We’re making a statement, this is Maori art and ‘in your face’ means it’s around you and you can’t see it, you don’t recognise it as being a valid art of a culture.

“While some see recognisable Maori art symbols, they are not looking at the integrity of the art that’s actually being produced.”

The show’s title, te MOKO, is said to reiterate the notion that facial moko asserts Maori identity, as too will the artworks exhibited.

The gallery space will be transformed to harness the visual and entertainment values of the marae. Performances and workshops will be held daily from a central stage.

“This is a statement of being Maori, of loving the images that identify us and of claiming a space to stand as ourselves,” says Adsett.

The challenge to create a space to support te iwitoi was one the gallery team wanted to make happen, says Hastings City Art Gallery, Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga curator Clayton Gibson.

“Embracing living, breathing conversations about matauranga Maori, and different ways of doing things, has been hard work but this mahi has been an integral part of putting this exhibition together.”

Te MOKO on our face/in your face opens at Hastings City Art Gallery, Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga, on Friday at 5.30pm and runs until August 15.

IGOR: Ngati Kahungunu artist Tori-Analee Houkamau’s Igor, a contemporary take on the hei-tiki, features in the Hastings City Art Gallery, Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga, exhibition, te MOKO on our face/in your face. Picture by ALPHAPIX