Margaret Aull, Zena Elliott and Aimee Ratana’s new show, Ārai explores identity and the artists’ personal experiences as Māori studying in a westernised education system.
Ten years since graduating with Media Arts degrees from Wintec, the artists have collaborated on the themes and ideas that are behind the artworks on display at Ārai. The exquisite works in the exhibition are beautiful to experience but they also challenge us to think about larger ideas.
As an idea, Ārai speaks about barriers and obstructions. The exhibition examines the institutional frameworks that can, at times, become barriers to Māori ways of learning. In an attempt to shift these imbalances, Ārai provides opportunities for kōrero (discussion) and exchange to occur, giving the artists and participants the time and space to make new connections and understandings.
In Ārai, contemporary paintings with bold colours and striking imagery, along with poignant photographs seek attention and convey important messages. An installation that refers to traditional cultivation methods and a large graphic window work references Māori knowledge and learning. For these artists, weaving traditional knowledge and ways of being into contemporary artworks, encourages us all to cultivate a world of creative fullness and depth.
Ārai is open now, free to the public and can be viewed from 12.30-4pm from Tuesday to Friday until 5 April at RAMP Gallery on Collingwood Street in Hamilton.
About the artists:
Margaret Aull – Tuwharetoa, Te Rarawa, Fiji
Margaret Aull is based in Te Awamutu, Aotearoa and has been an active agent in the community and arts sector. She has exhibited work consistently for more than a decade including solo and group shows in Aotearoa and the Pacific. She has presented her research and work in Hawaii, the United Kingdom and Fiji.
Margaret graduated with a Bachelor of Media Arts from Wintec in 2007, before completing a Masters of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe School of Art and Design.
Zena Elliott – Ngāti Awa
Zena Elliott was born in Whakatāne, raised in Te Teko and currently lives and works in Hamilton.
Zena’s large-scale paintings channel both the past and the present to provoke discussion surrounding indigenous culture and identity in contemporary rural and urban environments. Equally her works borrow from modes of contemporary urban culture, referencing both rural and contemporary society. Elliott pays homage to graffiti culture and contemporary street murals through her use of commercial paints, applied with elaborate stencils on large-scale works. Her use of eye-catching, electric colours alludes to the culture of advertising and signage and is an attempt to magnify notions of indigenous culture and identity.
Zena graduated with a Bachelor of Media Arts (Honours) from Wintec before gaining her Master of Visual Arts with Distinction, also from Wintec, in 2006.
Aimee Ratana – Tūhoe:
Aimee Ratana currently lives in Hamilton. Her works look to explicitly reinforce the principals of mana motuhake and rangatiratanga as aspirational future aims. Exploring notions of collective memory and presence and the importance of whakapapa (genealogy). They provide visual links to the past, present and future. Aimee contributed works to adorn Te Wharehou o Tūhoe, (the Tūhoe Tribal Building) which opened in 2014. She gained a Bachelor of Media Arts, from Wintec in 2003 and went on to complete a Masters in Māori Visual Arts at Massey University.