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Travelling Light

25 June 2008

A month-long exhibition timed to coincide with the month of Matariki, when the Pleiades star cluster rises in the morning sky; and inspired by the vast journeys undertaken by early Maori celestial navigators, Travelling Light is a show full of star maps, sea journeys, and night flights.

Translated as mata riki (tiny eyes) and mata ariki (eyes of god), Matariki is the Maori name for the star cluster known as the Pleiades. It is now also widely known and embraced as the name of the Maori new year, that time in the seasonal cycle when the Pleiades rise in the small hours of the morning and planting begins. For celestial navigators, the rise of Matariki was also known as a calm time to venture out into the Pacific.
Drawn largely from the collections of Christchurch Art Gallery, the works in Travelling Light share this journeying spirit. The journey begins with a treasure of Christchurch Art Gallery’s works on paper collection, Ralph Hotere and Bill Culbert’s Pathway to the Sea - Aramoana, a suite of prints that overlays the land and skyscape of Aramoana with ‘flight paths’, ‘light lines’ and ‘flight lines’.

From there the journey moves to three works animated by real light, the first of them Chris Heaphy’s vast two-part painting Te Ika a Maui Te Waka a Maui. Inspired by the story of Te Rauparaha blindfolding his warriors as they travelled by waka across Cook Strait, Heaphy’s diptych literally glows in the presence of ‘black light’ tubes. Ani O’Neill’s weaving Kua marino te tai (the sea is calm) casts a vast, star-punctured shadow on the wall behind it. And Lonnie Hutchinson also weaves light in her intricate, cut-paper evocation of the peaks that girdle Lyttelton harbour known as ‘the seven sisters’. Also on view in the show are works by Shane Cotton, Lisa Reihana, John Walsh and Joannna Braithwaite.

“We expect Matariki to be an especially lively time at the Gallery, with this exhibition complementing Darryn George’s Pulse and Inez Crawford’s Bouncy Marae elsewhere in the Gallery,’ says Gallery Director Jenny Harper.


Travelling Light will be at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu until 13 July 2008.

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