Art markets and art fairs have been part of the international landscape of contemporary art for about 30 years. In Aotearoa they are a relatively new phenomenon — the Auckland Art Fair opened only in 2006.
In Wellington, the art fair concept took a more specialised route with the advent of the Māori Art Market in 2007, and this is the month to see it at Te Papa and the TSB Event Centre. Two hundred artists, including a number of Hawai’ian and Canadian indigenous artist, will be represented by their galleries or independently.
The market was started and is still run by Toi Māori Aotearoa, an independent artist-led organisation set up in the mid-1990s to promote and find opportunities for contemporary Māori artists. It is headed by the visionary Nicholas brothers, Gary and Darcy, and has been successful in promoting artists and their work in Canada, Japan and, more recently, the Netherlands.
Darcy is a junior member of a group of well-known artists — including Ralph Hotere, Cliff Whiting, Selwyn Muru, Buck Nin, Fred Graham, Sandy Adsett and Arnold Wilson — who gathered together in the 1960s and 1970s to figure out how to stay in control of promoting and selling their work.
After the Te Maori exhibition toured internationally in 1980s, interest in Māori art at home magnified. A new generation of artists had emerged from mainstream art schools and from new schools such as Toihoukura in Gisborne and Hastings, and Te Pūtahi-a-Toi in Palmerston North.
This new generation, along with senior artists, came together in Patua at City Gallery Wellington in 1996. This exhibition showed the breadth and diversity of contemporary Māori art at the time. It was in the wake of this exhibition that Toi Māori came into existence, with the objective of creating an economy for artists using local and international networks.
At the launch of the 2014 market in September, a black BMW stood coolly outside the entrance to the Rydges Hotel. I want to say the car was decorated, but this seems like the wrong word for the silver designs that grace its exterior — the way a moko inhabits a face. It was suggested by Waana Davis, who spoke at the launch, that an All Black should own this car. And this is where Toi Māori are positioning Māori art and design — alongside high-end brands like BMW.
The design is by tā moko artist Derek Lardelli and the car will be featured at the market along with painting, ceramics, sculpture, carving, weaving, textiles and jewellery from artists all over the country. Especially exciting is the inclusion of pieces by alternative up-cycled fashion artists David Roil, Charmaine Anthony and Suzanne Tamaki. Watch out for events at Te Papa as well as the market itself, from 7 to 16 November.
The Dowse is always worth the trip. At the moment, Elizabeth Thompson’s installation of moths cluster on the wall of the gallery just off the entrance — as if they were attracted to the light of the walls (Invitation to Openness, until 23 November). Next door is the truly beautiful Peter Peryer exhibition, A Careful Eye (until 23 November). Organised in groups around the walls, Peryer’s photographs spark new conversations with each other, while highlighting the consistency of his vision over the years.[/info]