Intricate star maps painted on hand-beaten aute (Māori barkcloth) feature in Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai, a major solo show by artist Nikau Hindin (Ngai Tūpoto, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) opening at The Dowse Art Museum on Saturday 20 June 2020.
Open during Matariki, Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai is Hindin’s journey in understanding Maramataka (the Māori lunar calendar), through the revival of traditional aute practices.
Showing more than 15 new works made from aute and painted with kōkōwai (red ochre pigment), it is the Gisborne-based artist’s biggest solo exhibition yet.
“Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai is about bringing celestial bodies into the physical, documenting the movement of the moon and stars to find direction” says Hindin.
“I hope people reconnect with the importance of slowing down and noticing things in their environment,” she says. “To wake up to the sunrise or seek out the sun setting, to watch the stars rising and see the position of stars change over time.”
“It’s just a starting point for learning this native language of Aotearoa. Our ancestors were incredible scientists – they knew the whenua – we need to get back to that if we want to survive this climate emergency.”
Working with traditional aute fibres, Hindin’s work remembers and revives the long forgotten practice. Originally brought over from the Pacific, the plant and practice slowly receded from our shores in the mid-nineteenth century.
Using aute plants she harvests in Hawai’i, Hindin strips, beats and soaks the fibres into a cloth-like material, and inscribes it with patterns derived from tukutuku and tāniko, using kōkōwai and ngārahu (charcoal pigment).
She has been preparing the works for the show since the beginning of the year.
“I’m very excited to have a solo show at The Dowse,” she says. “I feel like this show has been a long time coming and I’m proud to bring it all together.”
Grace Ryder, Curator at The Dowse, says that the exhibition celebrates the remembering of this practice, and will help people learn about Maramataka and celestial navigation.
“Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai is about documenting a process of learning” she says. “Nikau is one of few practitioners reintroducing aute to our art histories in Aotearoa. Key to her practice are ideas and concepts intrinsic to Te Ao Māori, inherited knowledge, and wānanga.”
“Nikau is part of a network of young artists in New Zealand and the Pacific who are remembering these taonga, and who work in an open, generous and collaborative way.”
Nikau Hindin: Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai opens at The Dowse on Saturday 20 June, and is on until 4 October 2020.
It opens alongside two other new exhibitions at The Dowse: And we look and comb our hair, an exhibition of delicately balanced sculptures by Dunedin artist Bekah Carran; and Can’t Be Together, exploring ideas of togetherness, intimacy and isolation through a selection of artworks from The Dowse Collection.
They join four exhibitions on at The Dowse over winter – Ā Mua: New Lineages of Making, Human Hand: Fiona Amundsen & Tim Corballis, Ngā Hokohoko, and The Group: Flying No Standard. Spanning contemporary craft, film and photography, jewellery, painting and sculpture, there’s something to see for every art lover.