As I write this, it’s exciting to think that artists are working hard in studios across the motu, producing new works for the exhibition. In some cases, we know exactly what their works will look like; in others, they’re still taking shape. That’s an exciting position to be in, both as an institution and for me personally. Throughout my time as director at Te Puna o Waiwhetū, I have often talked about my desire for this gallery to be a catalyst for the creation of new work in Ōtautahi and beyond. Supporting artists to do what they do best is a key part of our kaupapa, and this exhibition is a great example of that principle in action.
Throughout the exhibition storytelling emerges as a strong theme, as the artists ask us to share meaningful experiences that relate to the current moment and the challenges we face. All the contributors to this issue of Bulletin have been selected to speak to some of these wider ideas, thinking about how we communicate with each other – through sound and language – and also moments where this communication might fail.
This Bulletin is also the first to have been produced with a guest editor. Jane Wallace is the Gallery’s curatorial assistant, working with us in an internship supported by Creative New Zealand. Together with curator Melanie Oliver, Jane has helped to develop Spring Time is Heart-break and this accompanying issue. She has brought together a lively mix of writers and artists to delve into the exhibition from a range of different angles.
Local writer Isla Huia (Te Āti Haunui a-Pāpārangi, Uenuku) has contributed a poetic essay that explores the whakapapa of language and her relationship to te reo Māori. Huni Mancini, a writer and archivist at the Archive of Māori and Pacific Sound looks at some of the collection items she works with that enliven songs and cultural practices from around the Pacific. Tracing a reunion with someone else, Anna Rankin uses broken or distorted signals as a recurring motif – static becoming a symbol of missed connections.
Our My Favourite comes from artist Sorawit Songsataya, who has researched the Gallery’s collection of snuff bottles for their new work in Spring Time and written about it in ‘If Objects Could Walk’. This bumper issue also comes replete with two pageworks, both by artists represented in the exhibition. Megan Brady (Kāi Tahu, Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Pākehā) has developed Kei Raro, showing the underside of the beautiful carpet she will install under our stairwell, and Sam Norton uses the process of collage for Eat, Prey, Love. To round it all off nicely, and to assist with your holiday activity needs, we’ve got a special list of summer recommendations, contributed by the artists in Spring Time, and a cryptic crossword themed around the exhibition and the art world – good luck!