Bare Rock And Backbones
In 1840, there was sea water at Britomart. Waka (canoes) were launched from tidal mudflats, and a prominent headland stretched out into the harbour near this spot. There was a Maori pa (fort) on the headland. A colonial military fort was then built, which later became an orphanage, before being torn down as the headland itself was demolished to fill in the bay. Auckland’s first colonial settlers arrived here, lifting their belongings and their skirts or coats above the mud. From this shore they surveyed their new home, and planned new lives and a new city. The 40 years that followed their arrival was a period of massive cultural and environmental change.
The exhibition title, Bare Rock and Backbones, refers to the sheer determination of the people of this place in forging the fledgling city from rock and mud. Bare Rock and Backbones was commissioned by Cooper and Company, who own and manage the Britomart site, and developed by Rob Garrett Contemporary Fine Art Ltd.
Cooper and Company and Rob Garrett Contemporary Fine Art Ltd would like to thank the following sponsors for making this exhibition possible:
Ernst & Young
Between 1865 and 1867, the former fort at Britomart was home to the city’s orphans – not much else is known about this period. Aleksandra Petrovic likes to focus on ‘small stories’ about people who would otherwise be forgotten. Petrovic is interested in how history is rewritten in its retelling. She puts several scenes together in her work so the viewer can make stories from them. Her figures are engaged in activities with items used in the documentation of history, such as plans, maps and diaries. Born in 1985, Petrovic graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2007. Recent exhibitions include ‘Draw’ (2007 and 2008), at Cross Street Studios in Newton.
Karena Way is interested in the idea that the Britomart site is reclaimed land. The word ‘lodgement’ refers to making a claim, or establishing a foothold in another’s territory. Way’s work invites us to think about the many possible plays on the words 'reclaimed land'.'Reclaimed land' describes the physical movement of the earth of Point Britomart into the foreshore and seabed to create a larger landmass for settlement and trade. 'Reclaimed land' also describes the reclaiming and renaming of the country and land by different parties: the Dutch, who called Aotearoa ‘Nova Zeelandia’, and then the British, who reclaimed/renamed it again – ‘New Zealand/Niue Tirini’.Way’s artwork uses the visual style of advertising and political posters. The 'stencil' font she has used re-emphasises the site as a place of transition; a place where baggage, goods and documents are stamped. Historically this ‘stencil’ font refers to shipping, travel, cargo and passage. Way recently completed studies towards a Masters Degree in Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland.
Integrate Globally Disintegrate
Locally Matt Dowman’s work focuses on the effects and ramifications of the tumultuous cultural changes at Britomart between 1840 and 1890. Imagery of indigenous wildlife, ships, colonials and Maori represents elements that have been altered or affected in some way through processes of cultural and environmental assimilation. Parts of the post office building (now Britomart train station) represent the impact of industry on the environment. Dowman graduated with Honours from the Masters of Fine Arts programme at Elam School of Fine Arts in 2004, having previously completed his Bachelor’s Degree at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design. He has won numerous scholarships and in 2008 was runner-up in the New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award. Dowman currently tutors at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design. He is represented by Vavasour Godkin Gallery.
Created 01 January 2009