Bob Jahnke's Kaokao sculpture lights up Wellington waterfront

By Ani-Oriwia Adds
  • Wellington

Bob Jahnke founded Massey University's pioneering Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts degree more than 20 years ago and continues to push his own work in new directions. His work is now a feature exhibition at Wellingtons biggest Light show LUX Light Festival on the Wellington waterfront. 

The 2.4 metre work comprising two x-shaped structures that form a diamond cavity will soon be a highly visible presence on the waterfront at a precinct of contemporary Māori light works called Te Aō Marama by the Wharewaka Function Centre.

The work is fitted with neon lights, something of a signature artistic accessory for Professor Jahnke who had a neon exhibition at Porirua’s Pataka Museum and Gallery last year which is now touring North Island centers.

His latest neon installation lit up Waiheke Island earlier this year and is being transported to Wellington for LUX, the annual celebration of light that this year features more than 30 New Zealand and international works.

Professor Jahnke, Ngāi Taharora, Te Whānau a Iritekura, Te Whānau a Rakairoa o Ngāti Porou, founded Massey University’s pioneering Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts degree more than 20 years ago, and continues to push his own work in new directions – with his neon sculptures a case in point.

Jahnke says  "the neon is encased in two sheets of glass, so it allows light to enter into the sculpture so if you stand up really close to the sculpture you can see through it. While it’s a single tube of neon what happens to the light is that it reflects infinity and I kind of like that, for me that infinite layering of the light is what captivates me."

“Unlike other lighting components, neons can be formed into patterns, images or text allowing me as an artist to express Māori concepts and forms through the concept of neon.”

The Lux Light festival will continue to run to the end of the week.