Robyn Kahukiwa is a senior Maori artist with a national and international reputation, whose career spans 40 years. Having lived on the Kāpiti Coast in recent years, she can also be described as a local artist. This is the first survey exhibition of her life’s work.
Curator Hinemoa Hilliard writes ‘Robyn Kahukiwa’s art has taken her on a journey that has deepened her connections and widened her understanding of what it means to be; a Maori woman, a mother and grandmother, a member of a tribe and other communities, a Maori artist living and practicing in the 21st century, living on contested land that has a history of violent colonisation. Her work has allowed us to share these experiences alongside her. Indeed, art historian Jonathon Mane-Wheoki states, “No contemporary Maori artist’s work is better known to New Zealanders than Robyn Kahukiwa’s”.
This exhibition of Robyn Kahukiwa’s work is organised around the concept of maumahara : remembrance, which it explores in two ways. Firstly it offers viewers the rare opportunity to see in one place a significant collection of work produced over a forty year period by senior Maori artist and recent recipient of the Te Waka Toi, Te Tohu Toi Ke Award, Robyn Kahukiwa. Of Ngati Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngati Hau, Ngati Konohi, Whanau-a-Ruataupare and Whanau-a-Te-Ao descent, her artistic reputation was built through exhibitions in New Zealand, America, England, China, Europe and Australia. She has been prolific as an artist (graphite, oils, watercolour), printmaker (variety of techniques), a writer (childrens books) and an illustrator (posters and books). She has also produced sculptural works (mixed media and bronze) and more recently designed a soft toy and action figures for children.
Secondly through exploring the content and context of her work we see how it functions as a visual advocate to enhance the concepts of mana Maori. Significant throughout her work is how she compresses time to challenge viewers to see and understand the connections between the past, present and our futures.’
Mahara Gallery is proud to present this exhibition as our contribution to the NZ International Festival of the Arts 2012. We also gratefully acknowledge the enormous contributions by Hinemoa Hilliard and Robyn Kahukiwa, and for their openness, energy and generosity.
We are also very grateful to the institutions who have loaned work, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Te Manawa Museums Trust, Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection, Aotea College, Whitireia New Zealand and Te Koohanga Reo National Trust.
We are especially grateful for the support of numerous private
lenders, also to Robyn Kahukiwa, Hinemoa Hilliard and their own whanau for sharing some of their own collections, and to Jenny Neligan of Bowen Galleries Wellington and Warwick Henderson Gallery Auckland for their support.
We also gratefully acknowledge the Deane Endowment Trust whose generous grant has meant we can produce a substantial illustrated catalogue for this exhibition, and to Creative Communities Kāpiti for their support.