On 17 June 1843 twenty six people perished in the Wairau Valley. Violently clashing over land rights, this was the first major confrontation between Māori and colonials since the 1840 signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi.
Nelson artist Sally Burton has approached The Wairau Incident as a three dimensional history painting. The monochromatic figures, constructed from found wood and draped in delaminated tapa cloth, are strong, cunning, raw, frail, passionate, evocative and ambitious. Burton freezes the figures in the moment that ignited conflict. Through this installation, and the inclusion of contextual artwork, Burton allows viewers to stop and reflect on the path that led to this violent confrontation and where it has taken us as a nation.
Cover image: Sally Burton, Map, 2017, acrylic and gold leaf on tapa cloth