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A whanau of artists

10 April 2007

New Zealand writer Patricia Grace and her daughters’ playwright Briar Grace-Smith and weaver Kohai Grace will discuss their arts at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu next week.

A Whanau of Artists, on Sunday 22 April, is part of the comprehensive public programme of performances, entertainment, lectures, panel discussions and presentations by Māori artists during the Toi Mäori: The Eternal Thread exhibition.

Patricia Grace published her first collection of stories, Waiariki – the first by a Māori woman writer – in 1975, winning the Hubert Church Prose Award for the best first book. Her second novel, Potiki, won the New Zealand Book Awards for fiction and the Liberaturpreis from Frankfurt.

Grace’s daughter Briar is also an award-winning writer of plays, and her fiction has been published in anthologies and journals. In 2003, she was writer-in-residence at the Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington, and in 2004 she led the On the Bus: Flat Out Brown, a contemporary Māori writers’ tour.

Kohai Grace was part of the curatorial team and is an exhibiting artist in Toi Mäori: The Eternal Thread. She was commissioned in 1990 by the National Library of New Zealand to produce tukutuku (woven panels) for the Nga Kupe Korero exhibition which toured the country, focusing on issues surrounding the Treaty of Waitangi, 150 years after its signing.

Kohai believes it is important to hold on to traditional knowledge with her weaving as a way of sustaining culture, while also experimenting with innovative ideas and new approaches. She enjoys using natural materials, often mixed with contemporary materials such as copper wire.

Gallery director Jenny Harper says having the talented Grace family at the Gallery will be a very special event.

"Each of these women has established themselves as an artist in their own right and contributed much to the cultural identity of New Zealand. A Whanau of Artists will be an inspiring event and provide many specific insights into this family as well as more generally into aspects of Mäori culture."

A Whanau of Artists – Patricia Grace and her daughters – will discuss their arts at Christchurch Art Gallery on Sunday, 22 April, at 11am in the Gallery Auditorium, and Kohai Grace will talk about her weaving work in the Toi Māori: The Eternal Thread exhibition at 2pm. For further information check out the website

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