Luminous paintings, intricately carved taonga pūoro and beautiful music are woven together to form the extraordinary exhibition Ngā Hau Ngākau (Breath of Mine). A collaborative installation between Robin Slow, Brian Flintoff and Bob Bickerton, this exhibition uses painting, sculpture and sound to explore the ideas of harmony, memory and storytelling.
In Māori mythology manu (birds) are messengers that connect the physical and the spiritual realms. They fill the gallery not only through Robin Slow’s gleaming paintings but in Bob Bickerton’s sound scape and Brian Flintoff’s carvings and taonga pūoro (musical instruments). The space is designed to resemble a wharenui (meeting house) and is unified through songs and reflective silences of these manu. An immersive environment, Ngā Hau Ngākau reflects the multisensory ways in which memory is imbedded through generations.
Creating bridges across space and time, the works in Ngā Hau Ngākau break down the barriers between past and present through the overlapping of traditional and contemporary tools and techniques to reflect the continuum on which we exist with our world and our history. Stone and bone meet acrylic paint and gold foil to create a space inside and outside of time. Using kowhaiwhai as a base, the spiralling forms echo the cyclical relationship we have with the past.
Slow, Flintoff and Bickerton say of the installation –
“Our kaupapa has been to work together, using painting… carving… music… to bind narratives that celebrate the forms and histories of the whenua (land). These narratives can be expressed by a spiral, kowhaiwhai, a bird’s song, a carved form, a woven kete – any symbol that may reflect the understandings and/or links with the lands of the receiver/viewer/listener.”