Small exhibition for big ideas

Graduate artists Māia Piata Rose Week, Clayton Tansley and Maihi Potaka

Part of 'Hidden Agenda' by Māia Piata Rose Week


'Whakatinanatanga' by Maihi Potaka


'Marama Tuku Iho' by Clayton Tansley

It may be a small exhibition but Matatau 2017 on at Te Manawa gallery in Palmerston North explores some big ideas.

The exhibition created by Massey University, College of Creative Arts Toioho ki Āpiti -Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts Matatau students (fourth year) and postgraduate students ranges from digital art to solar powered sculpture but behind each one is the theme of Mana Tangata.  Students were asked to design work about empowerment of self, expressing concepts impacting human rights, social and political historical and contemporary issues.

For post graduate student Māia Piata Rose Week, Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata, that expression took the form of a digital work that questions the position of the LGBT community within Māori tradition. Entitled Hidden Agenda three screens flicker with images that are alien and yet strangely familiar. Are they faces with moko or not?

Ms Week says the work reflects the questions she has over gender issues within te ao Maori (the Māori world). “It’s traditional for men on a marae to sit in front of women to provide spiritual safety but where does that leave trans-gender people?” She says the issue around full-face moko for men and moko kauae for women is also another explored in her installation.

While she doesn’t have the answers to these big questions Ms Week says she hopes her work will prompt people to think about the issues.

Another exhibitor, Maihi Potaka, Ngāti Hauiti, Ngāti Manawa uses sacred geometric forms to create spaces for healing. Entitled Whakatinanatanga Mr Potaka says the striking forms patterned with traditional kōwhaiwhai designs focus on the harmonic balance or imbalance of phsycial, emotional, mental and spiritual states. “These forms have an energy that… that can assist people find balance and healing.”

Mr Potaka says the tetrahedron shape is in perfect balance between physical and spiritual energies so it looks the same whichever way it is turned and even the spaces in between the forms provides potential energy depending on how the audience view it.

Mr Potaka will complete his Bachelor of Māori visual arts this year but will continue with Masters study next year.

Soaring above the exhibition is a solar powered sculpture by Clayton Tansley, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi. The bird like form is based on Māori kites or manu tukutuku and has solar lights installed.  Mr Tansley says just as manu tukutuku were traditionally used to relay messages, his work, Marama Tuku Iho has a message about solar power

He says the move by Hawke's Bay lines company Unison to introduce an extra charge for solar panel users is the wrong way to go. “I think it’s a way for big business to control electricity because they’re afraid of solar power and that inspired me to explore solar energy in this work.”

Topping their final year off, all three graduates leave this week for a five-week cultural exchange to Columbia along with other Massey University students.

Matatau 2017 is open at Te Manawa Gallery in Palmerston North through until February 18.


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