Topic: Arts

'More Than Meets The Eye' exhibition explores identity and culture

By Piripi Taylor
  • South Island

The plural construction of identity and culture is being explored in a new art exhibition by prominent Waikato artist Zena Elliott which opens tonight in Dunedin.

'More Than Meets The Eye' is her second solo exhibition at the Milford Gallery and follows on from the success of her exhibition last year entitled "Message Beacon".

The Mataatua/Te Arawa painter is renowned for transporting traditional elements found in Māori weaving, carving and architecture into the contemporary world, where they transform and take on multiple meanings.

Elliott’s personal obligation and responsibility through art practice is to seek relevant ways to engage audiences through forming and establishing relationships and connections between Māori identity and urban society.

"As an independent creative researcher and teacher, I reflect on past educational experiences. My most valuable learning was through creative expression and intellectual visual languages. Neke Atu I Te Tūtaki I Te Kanohi is an attempt to enhance and explore the transmission of knowledge and information, investigating the importance of creative visual language as a vehicle for communicating intellectual ideas, debate and thinking," Elliot says.

Transformative pou symbolising support, metaphorically represents Māori principals and values and are embellished with spray-painted stencils and stylised painted whakairo carving patterns that stand tall, telling their stories and inspiring others through principled kaupapa that is reflective and interchangeable.

Neke Atu I Te Tutaki I Te Kanohi explores how narrative can broaden our ability to interpret meaning through the unseen and seen in visual story-telling and communication. There is more to a story than meets the eye, interwoven and bound through the layers of form and pattern reside the parallel narratives and residue of the unseen cultural and personal nuances of creative process.  

Elliott is interested in acknowledging the significance of ideation and the conception of creative knowledge production that arises within the space of internal reflection where a state of drawing and designing through thinking occurs.

Born in Whakatāne and raised in Te Teko, Elliott is of Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau A Apanui, Ngāti Rangitihi and Ngāi Te Rangi descent.

She is an Independent Creative Researcher and Māori Visual Arts Lecturer based in Hamilton.

Neke Atu I Te Tūtaki I Te Kanohi - More Than Meets The Eye will be on at the Milford Gallery in Dunedin from the 1-26 of August 2015.