Shane Cotton's five-storey-high artwork at Britomart looms over Customs Street East.
“I thought about Auckland and how people come from out of town, how the big city draws you in. Then I started thinking about places outside the city. That’s when I started thinking about different mountains and landscapes and how when people come here, they bring a piece of that with them.”
Shane Cotton (Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Hine, Te Uri Taniwha) created Maunga, a permanent artwork, by starting with a series of 25 works on paper that were blown up to building size with the assistance of artists Ross Liew, Nicholas Boyd and Margarita Vovna. The pot forms depicted here are a reference to objects that appeared in painted wharenui in 19th-century Aotearoa during a period of great experimentation in Māori art that followed the availability of European materials and techniques. Imagery like it, Cotton says in this interview, “was very much about the hybrid nature of the times. New materials, new ideas and new visions, all expressed in unique and unfamiliar ways. A lot of that work, for me, has a beautiful freedom about it. There’s a sense that it’s not contained by any tradition.” In this work, each pot bears the name of a maunga or mountain, reinforcing the city’s role as a place where people from around the country gather.
The work was commissioned with the assistance of curator Nigel Borell for the 2020 exhibition Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art.