Ngāi Tahu Women Shine at The Dowse

Author: Katrina Smit, Communication & Relationships Manager

Areta Wilkinson, Lonnie Hutchinson and Chloe Cull are three Ngāi Tahu women making their mark at The Dowse Art Museum. Areta and Lonnie are well established artists with significant individual exhibitions starting in August and Chloe is an aspiring curator learning the ropes as a Toi Māori intern.



Toi Maori curatorial intern Chloe Cull in the gallery with Areta’s Wilkinson’s exhibition Whakapaipai—Jewellery as Pepeha.

Toi Maori curatorial intern Chloe Cull in the gallery with Areta’s Wilkinson’s exhibition Whakapaipai—Jewellery as Pepeha.

Director of The Dowse Courtney Johnston says it’s a happy moment of synchronicity that The Dowse are having a Ngāi Tahu moment, particularly given that City Gallery Wellington are also about to show the work of another luminary Ngāi Tahu artist, Fiona Pardington.

“This convergence of Ngāi Tahu women artists in the Wellington region at this time is a testament to the prominence and excellence of the work being created by each individual artist. They are all women artists at the height of their careers who identify strongly with their Ngāi Tahu heritage. It is definitely a mana wahine moment”.

Courtney says “It is great to have Chloe Cull with us through the Toi Māori Internship Programme. The timing of Chloe’s internship couldn’t be better. A focus of her recently completed MA thesis was Māori women’s art and art history. It is wonderful to be able to offer an aspiring arts professional with this interest, the opportunity to work at The Dowse while we are showing significant exhibitions of work by Areta Wilkinson and Lonnie Hutchinson”.

Areta Wilkinson descends from Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke, sub-tribes of Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mamoe and Waitaha whakapapa from Te Waipounamu (the South Island of New Zealand). Whakapaipai—Jewellery as Pepeha (on at The Dowse until 18 Oct 2015) is about treasuring both taonga (wearable personal adornments) and the knowledge transfer that surrounds them.

An accomplished contemporary jeweller / artist, Areta recently completed a PhD in Fine Arts at Te Pūtahi-a-Toi School of Māori Art, Knowledge and Education at Massey University in Palmerston North and was named the 2015 recipient of the prestigious $100,000 Creative New Zealand Craft / Object Fellowship

Black Bird (22 Aug – 15 Nov 2015) is the first major survey of Lonnie Hutchinson's rich and varied practice. Female subjectivity and feminist narratives inspire Hutchinson's unique approach to art-making, while her Māori (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kuri ki Ngāi Tahu) and Samoan heritage inform her interest in pattern, the play of light and shadow, and the navigation between space and time.

Black Bird includes Hutchinson's characteristic paper-cuts, works on paper and the installation She Could Taste Salt on Her Lips (2007). This exhibition brings together diverse works from public and private collections throughout New Zealand and is celebrated by an accompanying publication.

An afternoon of talks and performances to celebrate the opening of Black Bird will be held on Saturday 22 August from 1pm at The Dowse. 

Black Bird is supported by Tautai and Creative New Zealand and was developed by the Centre for Art Studies at the University of Auckland as a touring exhibition in conjunction with the Auckland Arts Festival Visual Arts Programme.

Chloe Cull (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi te Ruahikihiki) is fresh out of university. She recently completed a Masters degree in Art History from Victoria University. In 2014 Chloe was a recipient of the Creative New Zealand Te Waka Toi Emerging Māori artists—Ngā Manu Pīrere award. Chloe is spending five months at The Dowse as part of the Toi Māori Aotearoa Māori Arts Internship Programme which is designed to grow future Māori leaders in the arts.


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