Living māra kūmara (kūmara garden) grown inside wardian cases; films sharing local stories on community cultivation; and dinnerware ceramics from The Dowse Collection — a new exhibition at The Dowse Art Museum opening 24 October 2020 looks to the interdependent nature of food and people, specifically the conditions and ecologies of growing, making and sharing food.
Featuring seven different perspectives to food cultivation and consumption, Grace Ryder, Curator at The Dowse, brings together new works by BC Collective (Cora-Allan Wickliffe and Daniel Twiss), Xin Cheng and Adam Ben-Dror, Aroha Gossage, Hōhua Thompson, Zoe Thompson-Moore, Rita Angus and a selection of ceramics from The Dowse Collection.
From the Ground Up: Community, Cultivation and Commensality is an inquisitive investigation into the relationship people have with food production and consumption. “The exhibition looks to the role and function of food in our local communities—all the work, processes and people that maintain, supply and provide,” says Ryder. “It focuses on community narratives around food as a way to understand personal histories of migration, ownership and guardianship”
Covering a broad range of practices, the works in the exhibition are experimental in their approach to narrative; paintings offering a delicate visual into ideas of communal cultivation; discussions of Indigenous food methodologies enabled through a mixed media installation; a look into the complex history of the labour through a series of smocked potato sacks and potato skins; and the final act of commensality, of eating together at a table, represented in a selection of eighty dinnerware ceramics from The Dowse Collection.
“Food, as an act of service and hospitality, is my love language,” explains Ryder. “I have a particular interest in commensality, of hosting people around food, both as a daily ritual as well as a celebratory act. I am fascinated and excited in the power and politics of local food economies, particularly with the increase in discussions on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. It’s a pleasure to support elements these ideas in a gallery context.
“I am excited to see the exhibition come together and see how the individual works respond and work alongside one another,” continues Ryder. “This is an experimental exhibition, including a broad selection of artists and projects. Conceptually like to see it as the beginning of the relationship between artists, audience and I, allowing space for conversations to continue and expand as the exhibition continues.”
“I look forward to seeing how visitors feed into (excuse the pun) these works, adding their own perspectives and knowledge, encouraging the works and concept of the exhibition to continuously develop and grow over its course.”
Three other exhibitions also recently opened at The Dowse in October : Vernanoa Hetet: Creating Potential, is a showcase of works by prominent Māori weaver Veranoa Hetet QSM (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Ati Āwa), Angela Singer: Second Sight presents a whimsical and fairytale look at dead animals using forsaken vintage taxidermy and discarded jewellery from second-hand shops, and Josephine Cachemaille: This Way That Way where propped canvas works, reaching bronze arms and large raw clay feet are intended as well wishes and power objects to equip the artists’ daughter into adulthood.