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Turumeke Harrington: He pito mata, I'm energetic!

01 Oct 2022 – 19 Feb 2023
Free

Turumeke Harrington, He pito mata, I'm energetic! (detail), 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.

Turumeke Harrington, He pito mata, I'm energetic! (detail), 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.

Having had too many school report cards in her life that included comments like “has potential, should try harder”, Turumeke Harrington is on a mission to offer us an alternative form of encouragement.

Reflecting on how this Western approach can limit us, she says:

In many ways, our society sends the message that potential is a goal to be met, a resource to use up. In comparison, potential from a mātauranga Māori perspective is neither good nor bad, but rather neutral and all-encompassing.

Drawing on the whakataukī (proverb) "iti noa ana, he pito mata” (although it is just small, it is uncooked), Harrington builds this new body of work in reference to pito mata—the uncooked portion of kūmara that is replanted for future growth. Within her installation, bright green silk curtains and steel waharoa (gateways) recall the creation myth, where new life sprang from Te Kore (the void, realm of potential being)—and later—the separation of Rakinui (sky father) and Papatūānuku (earth mother) by Tāne-mahuta (god of the forest), who in turn made space for humans to flourish.

Within her make-shift forest, Harrington explores the interconnectedness of nature, people and the marae with furnishings that can be repositioned to suit our personal needs. Simultaneously, mischievously eerie soundtracks evoke noises of the past, which guide us though the installation and remind us that our futures are full of infinite potential.

Turumeke Harrington (Kāi Tahu, Rangitāne, Ngāti Toa Rangatira) is a Wellington based artist who works across sculpture and installation. Her practice is characterised by bold colours and references to domestic forms and materials. Sitting somewhere between art and design she is interested in exploring how objects, material and colour can subvert, challenge and express mātauranga Māori.

Harrington holds bachelor’s degrees in Industrial Design from Victoria University and Fine Arts from Canterbury University. In early 2022 she received and a Master of Fine Arts (Distinction) at Massey University and has recently exhibited at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu, Pātaka Art + Museum, Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Toi Pōneke, RM Gallery and Objectspace.