23 Sep 2018
Ten of Aotearoa New Zealand’s leading contemporary visual artists will have their work featured in the United Kingdom’s first major exhibition of Māori and Pacific culture next month.
Oceania will run at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from 29 September – 10 December 2018. It will include around 200 works showcasing the art and culture of New Zealand, Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. The exhibition spans more than 500 years and will mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, which was founded in 1768 – the same year Captain James Cook set sail on his first Pacific expedition on the Endeavour.
Opening in London in the same week as Oceania will be exhibitions by two other New Zealand artists. Francis Upritchard’s site specific installation Francis Upritchard: Wetwang Slack will open in The Curve at the Barbican Centre. Works by Luke Willis Thompson will also feature in the Tate Britain exhibition for Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize 2018. Thompson was one of four artists shortlisted for the prize, which will be announced in December. Both exhibitions run from 26 September 2018 – 6 January 2019.
“The combination of exhibitions at the Royal Academy, Tate and the Barbican Centre is an extraordinary opportunity to showcase the culture of the Pacific and the quality and breadth of contemporary visual arts from Aotearoa,” said Arts Council Chairman Michael Moynahan.
“Part of Creative New Zealand’s role is to support our talented New Zealand artists and arts organisations to achieve success internationally and we are delighted to see these exhibitions come to fruition in such a stunning way.”
The contemporary artists and their works featured in the Oceania exhibition are:
- Mark Adams: a photographer will present Chalfont Crescent, Mangere, South Auckland. Jim Taofinu'u. Tufuga tatatau: Su'a Sulu'ape Paulo II, 30 June 1985. The photograph is part of a larger body of work which explores the cross cultural milieu and work of tatau (tattoo) master Su’a Sulu’ape Paulo II. The photographs of tatau making and tatau recipients were taken in Auckland and Europe over 40 years and depict the controversial globalisation of tatau that began in the Samoan diaspora to Auckland in the 1970s.
- Yuki Kihara: an interdisciplinary artist will present Siva in Motion, 2012, a high definition, silent video. Dressed in a Victorian mourning dress, Kihara performs a taualuga – a traditional Siva Sāmoa (Sāmoan dance). Inspired by conversations with survivors of the 2009 Tsunami, Siva in Motion describes the movements of the wave which took the lives of more than 189 people in American Sāmoa, Sāmoa and Tonga.
- Mata Aho Collective: a collective of four Māori women artists will present Kiko Moana, 2017. The work is made of light-duty blue tarpaulin that is folded, stitched and slashed. The collective has employed accessible materials and researched customary Māori sewing techniques to portray the tradition of innovation. The work was originally presented in documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany in 2017. The collective is made up of Erena Baker (Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangātira), Sarah Hudson (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe), Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) and Terri Te Tau (Rangitāne ki Wairarapa).
- Fiona Pardington (Māori [Kai Tahu, Kati Waewae and Ngāti Kahungunu]; Scottish [Clan Cameron of Erracht; MacDonald and O'Niell descent]) will exhibit five portraits from her acclaimed The Pressure of Sunlight Falling, a series of photographs of life casts made by medical scientist and phrenologist Pierre Dumoutier during one of French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville's South Pacific voyages from 1837 to 1840. Launched at the 17th Biennale of Sydney in 2010, it was exhibited at Govett-Brewster Gallery and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 2011. The casts are held in Musée de l’Homme (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle), Paris.
- Michael Parekowhai (Ngāti Whakarongo): a sculptor and installation artist will present He Korero Purakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: The Story of a New Zealand River, 2011. The work is the ornately-carved, red painted Steinway concert grand piano which formed the centrepiece of On First looking into Chapman’s Homer, Parekowhai’s presentation for the New Zealand pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2011 in Venice. Performance is key to the work, which aside from being a sculpture is also a tuned instrument.
- John Pule: works with elements of poetry, prose, drawing, printing making and painting. He will present Kehe tau hauaga foou-To All New Arrivals, 2007. This consists of five large paintings on canvas melding enamels, ink, oil, pastel, polyurethane, contemporary, mythology and traditional Niuean forms to comment on a history of colonisation and migration in the Pacific.
- Lisa Reihana (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāi Tu): a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice spans film, sculpture, costume and body adornment, text and photography will present in Pursuit of Venus [Infected], 2015-2017. This large scale panoramic video reanimates the historic, French scenic wallpaper Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique to present an indigenous perspective of early settlement and encounter. The work was the centrepiece of Reihana’s presentation for the New Zealand pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2017 in Venice.
New Zealand (through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade), Papua New Guinea and the Kingdom of Tonga are partnering with the Royal Academy of Arts to present the Oceania exhibition in London. Themes of the exhibition including voyaging, place-making and encounters relate to the past, present, and future of the Pacific. In a one-off offer by the Academy the exhibition will be free for all holders of New Zealand and Pacific Island passports.
Alongside the high profile of the exhibition, New Zealand and Pacific Island countries will hold a series of events to promote discussion and debate in the United Kingdom about opportunities in the Pacific and the global issues the region is actively confronting, including climate change, security challenges, and sustainable development.
Creative New Zealand will invest $170,000 in the freighting of artworks and the travel and accommodation for the contemporary artists to attend the opening of Oceania and participate in the public programme. The investment also covers international public relations in support of the exhibition.
Also providing support for Oceania are Te Papa and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.
Oceania has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Paris, with the participation of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge. The exhibition has been curated by Professor Nicholas Thomas FBA, Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge and Dr Peter Brunt, Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington in conjunction with Dr Adrian Locke, Senior Curator, Royal Academy of Arts.
Dates and Opening Hours
Saturday 29 September – Monday 10 December 2018
10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm)
Late night opening: Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm)
For more information please contact:
021 244 4016
For further information and images about the Royal Academy of Arts and Oceania, contact:
Head of Communications
+44 207 300 5615