Late to the Ball by Ming Ranginui at Season, Auckland
There are only three works in this exhibition by artist Ming Ranginui (Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi), but they're not to be underestimated.
The pieces are inspired by the fairytale of Cinderella and are partially a statement about the daily grind of working in retail. The artist works at Wellington’s Pete’s Emporium – a costume hire, party supply, craft and hardware store – in the haberdashery department and deals with “ugly stepsister” customers every day. In Late to the Ball, Ranginui considers her personal experience of working in the shop, as well as the circumstances for Māori living in a nine-to-five, capitalist society. The titles of each work lend themselves to the drudgery. There’s Till the clock strikes five, an ornately sewn, puffy round wall hanging with a clock mechanism in the centre. The glittering satin pink doll house – or Dole House – is detailed with diamantes, pearls and beads. The embellished broomstick is titled Swept under the rug. There is more to the story to uncover, and it is a playful yet weighted reminder that all that glitters is not gold and a prompt to interrogate the status quo in Aotearoa. On until March 25. 6 Lower Albert Street, Commercial Bay.
Had us running with you by Kate Newby at Michael Lett, Auckland
Aotearoa-born, Texas-based artist Kate Newby is internationally acclaimed for her site-specific art installations in built environments. Newby’s exhibition Had us running with you has transformed Lett’s project space in the historic Methodist Mission Hall, which is next to his gallery on East Street. Newby uses a range of artistic materials to turn the whole building into an experiential art installation.
She works closely with friends, family and various communities to create her shows; for this, ceramics were sourced from Paeroa and Nelson, she had bronze fabricated in Texas and used glass panes made in France and Whanganui – as well as some she made in Texas. On Michael Lett’s ground floor, small and delicate ceramic shapes are organised into a large floor installation. Distinctive glazed clay tiles are assembled in a grid on an outside alley wall, while bronze slates have seemingly replaced old floorboards. Head upstairs and you’ll find ambient light filtering through warmly toned individual panes of glass. The panes form a colourful installation in several of the building’s original windows. There are artworks to be found at every turn, even in the most unnoticeable areas. Have a look around and expect the unexpected. On until April 1. 312 Karangahape Road (corner of East Street), Auckland CBD.
Stories from the Taro Patch at Fresh Gallery Ōtara, Auckland
This exhibition celebrates the creativity, education and sharing of Moana Pasifika peoples. It presents works created as part of this year’s Tala Loto Fale program, a South Auckland-based initiative by digital agency Taro Patch Creative that specialises in digital storytelling and the arts through a Pasifika lens. You’ll see artworks made by program mentors presented side-by-side with program participants who experience physical and mental challenges.
The artists were encouraged to tell stories about their daily lives, healing and personal development, which were translated into different art forms. Some of the contributors are making art for the first time in their lives. As you make your way through the gallery, there are a few installations to experience. Documentary-style photographs are on display, as well as photographic portraits, video works (including sound), fashion apparel and more. The exhibition is considered and meaningful; it provides a glimpse into the artists’ daily realities, all while making important connections within the community. Artists involved: John Fiu, Mimita Kiripati, Elizabeth Mafile’o, Emily Mafile’o, Vea Mafile’o, Esther Mauga, Hakimata Piho, Lorrie Pupualii, Raymond Sagapolutele, Ryan Teura, Vanneza Utakea and Naomi Vailima. On until April 8. 5/46 Fair Mall, Ōtara.
The Sentiment of Flowers at Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland
This group exhibition, curated by Lisa Beauchamp, brings together Aotearoa and international artists to offer non-binary perspectives on the relationship between organisms, nature and queerness.
You’ll see a multitude of media including paintings, film, installation and sculpture, which delve into various facets of queer theory to explore the idea that earth and nature shouldn’t be thought of in narrow, rigid terms. A few highlights include Ecosex Manifesto 1.0 by couple and artistic duo Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens (don't forget to sign it if it resonates with you), Aotearoa artist Richard Orjis’s black and white film of the Hiruhārama/Jerusalem settlement on the Whanganui River, grids of painted flowers by Ayesha Green representing the course (and emotions) of a relationship, and Atlas of Anti-Taxonomies (2019-22) by Alicia Frankovich – the first time this installation of large-scale lightboxes has been exhibited in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Gallery tip: Gus Fisher has a range of interesting events and public programs associated with the exhibition that are suitable for all ages – check its website for details. On until May 6. 74 Shortland Street, Auckland CBD.
Light from Tate: 1700s to Now at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
This significant exhibition explores the concept of light and how its symbolism has been used and depicted since the 1700s. A substantial number of luminaries are included, from Claude Monet and John Constable to Yayoi Kusama, Bridget Riley and Anish Kapoor. It features diverse methods and media, with paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures and immersive installations for all ages to see and enjoy. Many are artworks seldom seen before in Aotearoa and it’s a rare opportunity to see an international calibre of artists in our own backyard.
As you make your way through the dimmed galleries, you’ll notice how light and movement has been depicted through the ages. The works are displayed in a loose chronological order highlighting the different periods of art-making. As technology advanced, the ability to portray light progressed. For example, a large-scale oil painting by British painter John Brett titled The British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs beautifully depicts the way light strikes the sea with delicate marks of oil paint. By comparison, Untitled by British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor is a large wooden box, the inside covered with velvety deep blue pigment. It seems empty but compels you to focus your eyes and look further into the darkness to find presence (you will see a shape in there).
You can observe the contrast between light and dark, brilliance and shadow in every artwork, making for a delightful and contemplative exhibition. The artworks all share a commonality: our need to reflect and understand the human experience through the transformative nature of light.
Gallery tip: Make sure you have time to immerse yourself in the light installations and videos by James Turrell, Olafur Eliasson and Tacita Dean. These notable works will only heighten your experience of the exhibition. On until June 25. Wellesley Street East, Auckland CBD.*
Anita Tótha is an art consultant working between New York and Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland.