The art edit

We explore the latest in New Zealand art from emerging and established artists traversing medium, geography, style and subject. 

The sun sets

During their 2021 residency at Tylee Cottage in Whanganui, Auckland-based photographer Solomon Mortimer and choreographic artist Zahra Killeen-Chance found themselves confined to their cottage. This is the result of their stay.

Solomon and Zahra's residency at Tylee Cottage in Whanganui was cut short by the nationwide lockdown, but it provided a framework for their collaborative work.

Within weeks of arriving in Whanganui in July 2021 for a five-month residency at Tylee Cottage, Solomon and Zahra became slightly more familiar with the confines of the cottage than many others before them. In mid-August the whole country was placed into Level 4 lockdown.

Although this time curtailed the extent of the pair exploring Whanganui, it did provide a framework for the new photographic and video work that can be seen in their post-residency exhibition, The Sun Sets Beneath the Ocean.

Solomon and Zahra's post-residency exhibition, The Sun Sets Beneath the Ocean, showcases their collaborative photographic and video work that considers the architectural details of historic Tylee Cottage, where they spent five months in residency.

The pair have been making collaborative work together since 2012, with Solomon behind the camera lens and Zahra often in front, but the choreographing of their images is very much a collaborative process. In their exhibition, the pair have considered the architectural details of the historic cottage. 

The spaces were the stage for a slow-moving exploration of their time at Tylee, the changing light and also family life, with their infant daughter and with Zahra pregnant with the couple’s second daughter. They describe their process as “a dialogue between the topography of the body and the topography of the environment”.

In 2022 their photobook A Room in Whanganui, which was produced as a result of their residency at Tylee Cottage, was awarded the top prize in the Aotearoa Photobook Awards.

The Sun Sets Beneath the Ocean is on show at Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui from 11 March until 30 June 2023. The gallery’s artist in residence programme is funded by Creative NZ through its Toi Uru Kahikatea Investment Programme.

A dispersive prism

Wendy Hannah’s latest series Home incorporates her signature ‘X’ shape, which reflects its surroundings like a kaleidoscope of mirrors.

The Art Edit

An Auckland-based Sculptural Painter of Māori ‘Ngati Awa’, ‘Te Arawa’ and of European descent, Wendy’s oeuvre is derived from the visual rendering of tukutuku (a traditional Māori craft used to bind and weave which also represents the whānau (family) in Māori thought), which she presents in its most abstract form, as an ‘X’.

The Fresnel lens has always fascinated her and ignited her need to explore a contemporary version based on the feminine.

Home, her latest collection, is defined by the vibrant colours of the multi coloured perspex panels reflecting and refracting their environment, creating beacons of light, akin to a Fresnel lens.

These works act as a beacon of feminine light, which calls us repeatedly home to Turangawaewae where our sense of identity and independence is firmly grounded. In our mind’s eye, home is where we embrace warmth, light, memories, sanctuary, safe-haven and nurturing.

“My interest in the human condition, and how colour and light can affect people is a driving force behind the immersive nature of my practice. Growing up in Mount Maunganui, I was surrounded by the ocean – an ever-changing dispersive prism.”

This new series of light works echo this; like the ocean the artworks change from day to night, creating a constant state of gentle flux, which truly captivates.

Beneath the surface

Two current exhibitions at Te Whare Toi City Gallery Wellington deliver an energy of light, colour, sincerity and cynicism. We explore the story of each.

The Art Edit
Ben Buchanan Lead Bacchus (detail), 2022.

Beneath the surface

Two current exhibitions at Te Whare Toi City Gallery Wellington deliver an energy of light, colour, sincerity and cynicism. We explore the story of each. 

Sour Grapes


 There was once a great paint-off between 5th century BC artists Zeuxis and Parrhasius. A master of illusionism, Zeuxis’s painting of a bunch of grapes was so realistic that birds flew up and attempted to eat the sweet fruit. In its ability to outperform reality, Zeuxis’s art sets out a number of relationships between painting, technical mastery and truth that
reverberate throughout art history. 

This story, and grapes themselves, would become a staple of the still-life and trompe l’oeil genres. Within the frame of the historical still-life, valuables and delicacies proliferate in celebration of taste, wealth, and possession. More than anything, they demonstrated a desire to control and consume the world. Martin Basher and Ben Buchanan approach painting from the other end of history. They paint at a time when these drives have pushed the world to the edge of destruction and those relationships symbolised by Zeuxis’s grapes have all been shattered. While referencing both still-life and historical painting, their practices are of the present, not the past. 

They explore the agency and potentiality of painting at a time when a climate emergency, extractive capitalist excess, and swirling cultures of misinformation have fractured all notions of ‘truth’ or ‘reality’. What would Zeuxis do?
Both artists create painterly ‘environments’ or ‘ecosystems’ that push and pull between representation and reality, and the natural and the artificial. Sour Grapes is laced with sincerity and cynicism, faith and doubt, especially when it comes to any hope in art’s ability to enact change upon the world or even to find beauty and wonder within it.

The Art Edit
Martin Basher Suddenly Still Life (Purple, orange, white, black) 2022, 2K automotive paint on aluminum.

Sour Grapes is not a competition between two artists vying for mastery over each other, their medium, or the nature of reality. Rather, it is a collaborative gesture that explores some shared possibilities and tensions for painting now.

The Only Dream Left


The Only Dream Left is the largest exhibition to date of the world-bending practice of Reuben Paterson (Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Tūhourangi). Paterson’s work first seduces with lavish colours, forms and materials, harnessing the magical and transformative properties of light.

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Reuben Paterson The Golden Bearing, 2014. Photograph courtesy of Bryan James and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

The swirling, optical energy of these works – often using his signature material of glitter – then pry open the complex issues and tensions that sit just beneath the surface of all things. Paterson’s work revolves around the relationships we have with our bodies, desires and cultures – and those we share or negotiate with others. Made in celebration of exchange and encounter, hybridity and fluidity, spirituality and sexuality, his work is especially attuned to the dynamics of queer identity and whakapapa based modes of cultural knowledge.

The Art Edit
Reuben Paterson The Hine Aotea Cat, 2022, glitter on canvas, courtesy of the artist and Page Galleries.

The Only Dream Left presents a kind of imaginary playground based on a series of encounters, experiences and provocations. It looks back and across Paterson’s practice primarily to emphasise its journey forwards. The exhibition acknowledges Paterson’s immense contribution to the art and culture of Aotearoa over the last three decades, while revealing bold new directions and moves.


Tauranga-based artist Hannah Valentine is captivated by the human body. Our physical sensibilities – and the importance of touch in interacting with the world – provide the definitive concepts in Hannah’s practice.

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Hannah Valentine's sculptures explore the human body and the significance of touch. She often references her own body by creating twisted, organic forms using wax which are then cast in bronze.

Her sculptures regularly reference her own body, using lengths of wax more than double her height or wrapping strips of wax around parts of her body to create a series of twisted, organic forms that are then cast in bronze.

Often, hand-moulded bronze aspects are brought together with sourced materials including utilitarian climbing rope – the simplicity and precision of these careful compositions resulting in a satisfying tactile tension.

Free-standing sculptures morph and shift as viewers move around them; the works activated by the presence of living breathing bodies. “Viewers can fill the space around [the sculptures], but for all that the freestanding works are made of bronze, they are still fragile. They are thin, light, and a touch sends them into a quiver,” Hannah explains.

“I really like the way bronze is able to pick up and hold imprints of the body. It’s similar to working with clay, but there is something about its permanence I’m drawn to. In a culture where so much is thrown away, I like that working with bronze is so solid, so present and lasting. It’s a material that people tend to understand, too, though usually from the perspective of monuments, rather than objects on a personal scale. I like that it responds to touch. It warms up; it likes to be held.”

Hannah is presenting work with Page Galleries for Aotearoa Art fair 2023, and has produced a large cast bronze for the outdoor sculpture area. The scale of the work is undeniably human. It reads almost like a portrait of mother and child; made up of two organic forms, one larger one smaller, placed side by side.

To pause

Corban Estate Arts Centre presents its two summer exhibitions in the Homestead Galleries that together reveal connections to identity, storytelling and reverence.

a r a p e t a’s solo exhibition at the 2023 Auckland Arts Festival reimagines Aute genealogies as dreams through dance, wooden tapa beaters, and tapa anvils, inviting visitors to engage physically with the exhibition space.

Opening on Friday 17 February are two exhibitions – Oasis/ Respite 2.0, the second iteration of a group exhibition project that aims to provide a physical home away from home for the LGBTTQIA+ community, alongside Kei whea te Aute, a solo show by a r a p e t a (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Whanaunga, and Ngāti Porou) which presents a passageway into the revival of Aute. Between these two exhibitions exists the opportunity for visitors to pause, to discover a sense of calm and to immerse themselves in storytelling that seeks to comfort, educate and relieve.

Corban Estate Arts Centre's summer exhibitions, Oasis/Respite 2.0 and Kei whea te Aute, explore themes of identity, storytelling, and revival. The exhibitions provide a physical and emotional space for the LGBTQIA+ community and offer an opportunity for visitors to pause, discover calm, and immerse themselves in storytelling.

As part of the Proud Centres programming for the 2023 Auckland Pride Festival, Oasis/Respite 2.0 hosts a selection of works by artists and creatives.

Part of the 2023 Auckland Arts Festival, in a r a p e t a’ s solo exhibition Kei whea te Aute, they seek to re-envision Aute genealogies as wawata (dreams) through the mediums of Kanikani (dance and interpretive performance), Patu Aute (wooden tapa beaters) and Papa Aute (wooden tapa anvil). 

Inviting visitors into the gallery space barefoot, an invitation to engage physically with the Patu Aute and Papa Aute transforms the viewer into participant, with sound and performance providing a tactile means for unpacking the question ‘Where is the Aute?’, and embracing the Ngaati Whanaunga performing structure of Whare Tapere (sites of story-telling).

Traces of presence

With time and space to pursue his own photographic interests during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, contemporary portrait photographer Jae Frew brought to life Manu Kōingo – Birds of Yearning, a project that pays tribute to New Zealand’s extinct and endangered wildlife.

It was a concept that had been on his mind for many years -the idea to create a series of works that speaks to and engages the interests of his youth while raising awareness of our fragile and diminishing forest life.

 Manu Kōingo – Birds of Yearning brings together his in-depth knowledge of portraiture with a life-long interest in birds, and fervour for creating objects with wood. The formal, fine-art style of Jae’s large scale portraits of birds, with their darkened Victorian backgrounds and heavy wooden frames, calls to mind the solemn dignity of 19th century portraiture, a symbol of status that the subject was beloved, important, or revered.

While reminiscent of a vanished era, the photographs offer a reminder to treasure and protect what remains in the present. This emphasis on elevation of status speaks to the sense of importance and urgency that Jae feels for the preservation of our native species of birds and forest life. 

Granted access to collections and specimens held within institutions such as Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Jae spent hours observing his subject from every angle, just as he did as a boy with birds in his aviary. By capturing
his still life avian subjects in ways that would have us believe they might suddenly stir and take flight or turn their head to meet our gaze, he has resurrected these dormant specimens. 

 An evocative sense of each bird’s personality is revealed, offering an invitation to the viewer – in the tradition of viewing portraiture – to attribute and project character, temperament, memories, and history to each subject, to connect as we would with a portrait of someone known to us, a loved one, family member, or ancestor.

Manu Kōingo – Birds of Yearning will be exhibited at Parnell Gallery in 2023.

Imagined reality

Contemporary artist Claudia Kogachi was born in 1995 in Awaji-Shima, Japan. She lives in Tamaki Mākaurau. Her work leans into the personal – inserting the people in her life into her paintings.

Claudia Kogachi

She can’t resist inserting the people in her life into her paintings, often depicting herself and those around her carrying out everyday leisure activities or exploring imaginary moments. These scenarios are used to delve into various interpersonal dynamics and emotional states, navigating the often complex side of relationships.

For Claudia, life is as malleable as fiction and she bends the narrative truth of both towards each other until they meet. Her
works are imaginary negotiations of real relationships and real feelings. Moving between painting, drawings and textiles, all mediums hum with the same energy. With playful ease, Claudia embraces ugliness with no subject or bodily aspect too taboo. In a world where everything is real and everything is made up, you can be anything you want.

For the 2023 Aotearoa Art Fair, Jhana Millers will present a solo exhibition of rugs and paintings by Claudia Kogachi.

Art at The Cloud

Aotearoa Art Fair will return to The Cloud on Auckland’s Queens Wharf this March, with an extended offering presenting the work of local and international artists.

The Fair is New Zealand’s biggest contemporary art event, presenting 40 galleries showing the work of more than 180 of our region’s most exciting artists, alongside artist talks, an outdoor sculpture space overlooking the Waitematā Harbour, an art bookshop, and cafés and bars. 

This year, the Fair will also showcase the work of artists from galleries based around New Zealand, as well as international artists from the wider Pacific region through the inclusion of galleries from Australia, Rarotonga, Indonesia and South Korea.

Aotearoa Art Fair will be held over four days from Thursday 2 March until Sunday 5 March, 2023.

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