Parlour is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Brett Graham from July 12 through July 29, 2017. Titled Properties of Peace and Evil, the exhibition thematically explores the Battle of Omarunui that took place in Hawke’s Bay on October 12, 1866.
Properties of Peace and Evil responds to Jono Rotman’s recent exhibition at Parlour, Omarunui. Here Graham looks to historical correspondence and artefacts to provide an alternative account of the events that shaped Omarunui.
On October 12, 1866, 200 militiamen and a similar number from local hapu surrounded a party of approximately 100 Pai Marire followers, comprised mainly of Ngati Hineuru. After an invitation to surrender was rebuffed, the occupied kainga was besieged. Many Ngati Hineuru were killed with the balance taken prisoner and exiled to the Chatham Islands, along with whanau who were taken prisoner at Herepoho near Petane. Those events and the subsequent outcomes remain contentious, and many conflicting perspectives still exist.
Throughout his practice, Brett Graham has abstracted complex historical and cultural ideas into formally strong and compelling sculptural forms. His work engages in a dual dialogue of Maori and European histories whilst exploring materiality and form. Working at the intersection of ancient and contemporary beliefs, Graham’s work investigates the transmission of culture and power relations.
Two five-metre tall paneled structures that occupy the main gallery floor are reminiscent of ‘niu’ poles that were the totem of the Pai Marire faith. The site-specific works call to mind the stone obelisks that were erected at Petane and Omarunui in 1916 by the veterans of the ‘One Day War’ and subsequently knocked over in the 1990s in an act of protest.
On the main viewing wall, four works on paper represent Archangels Michael Riki (Ariki) and Gabriel Rura (Ruler) as punisher and pacifier. Riki and Rura were often carved on the ‘niu’ cross arms or represented by flags as the deities ofpeace and war.
The public are invited to attend an opening reception for Properties of Peace and Evil on Wednesday, July 12 from 5.30pm—7pm at 306 Eastbourne Street East, Hastings.
BRETT GRAHAM is a highly regarded New Zealand artist of Ngati Koroki iwi tribal Maori descent. Graham graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts in 1988 and subsequently completed an MFA at the University of Hawaii in 1991. He holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Auckland. His work is held in prominent public and private collections.