30 Ukulele, Kohukohu, Hokianga

My work features in an upcoming exhibition called 30 Ukulele at Village Arts in Kohukohu, Hokianga, New Zealand from 6 March – 1 April 2010.

(K)IWI Notion of a Nation

Photo: NEIL DUDDY - Manukau Courier

Exhibition tells artist’s story

By JESSIE COLQUHOUN – Manukau Courier

In 2004 Don Brash’s Kiwi/iwi election billboards sparked controversy. But they also fired up the imagination of a young south Auckland arts student.

Of Pakeha and Ngati Maniapoto (Tainui) descent Reuben Friend explores the notion of nationality in a new exhibition at Fresh Gallery Otara.

(K)IWI – Notion of a Nation aims to highlight some of the tensions that exist between the cultures.

“My work is not just about my story, it’s the story of all of my family and how I identify with being Maori and Pakeha,” he says.

“It doesn’t try and reconcile events of the past, it just helps me to form where I came from.”

The series of six paintings are red, white and black and have an image covered in a kowhaiwhai pattern of repeating koru.

“I’ve had people ask me ‘What is the dominant image – the kowhaiwhai or the other image?’, he says.

“When people look at me it’s the same – what’s dominant? Maori or Pakeha? It’s neither – I’m both.”

The exhibition is the outcome of Mr Friend’s work on his masters degree in Maori visual arts from Massey University.

He paints in the evenings and weekends and by day works as the curator of Maori and Pacific arts at the Wellington City Art Gallery.

Now based in the Wairarapa, Mr Friend grew up in Otara and Mangere Bridge.

He says he wanted to bring his work back to south Auckland so it would be accessible to the Maori and Pacific community.

“It’s really cool to bring it home to where I grew up.”

(K)IWI – Notion of a Nation is on at Fresh Gallery Otara until Saturday 13 February.


Find Reuben Friend here: www.ReubenFriend.com

Dawson Road Mural Project

Affirming and empowering South Auckland voices, the Dawson Road Mural Project invites artists to respond to the voices and interests of those who use the space. Dawson Road is in the suburb of Otara, in the heart of South Auckland. The population of Otara is almost 70% Polynesian and 20% Maori; the local secondary school, Tangaroa College is 43% Samoan and approximately 40% of the community is under 20 years of age. The aim of this strongly participatory community arts initiative is to develop a striking public artwork that ignites pride and enriches a sense of ownership of the park and local area.

Visit Dawson Road Mural Project blogsite for regular updates.


The excellent Auckland-based video artist Janet Lilo (NZ Nga Puhi / Niue / Samoa) has been announced as the latest New Zealander to be resident artist in Sapporo, Japan under the JENESYS residency programme. Internationally recognised Avondaler Ms Lilo will rock the block in Sapporo. The opening of her solo show at Fresh Gallery Otara, MYFACE (12 June – 4 July 2009) will feature a live video cross to Ms Lilo – from Japan to Otara.

Install of TOP16 (2007) in Le Folauga, Khaosiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan


Defining Sovereignty: until 23 February

Sheeple, acrylic on cartidge paper, by Yazma Smith

Sheeple (2007) from Defining Sovereignty
Acrylic paint on cartridge paper
By Yazma Smith

Yazma’s solo exhibition, Defining Sovereignty, is only on show for one more week at Fresh Gallery Otara – paper works still available for trade, and canvas works for sale.

Te Ao Hurihuri (2007) series
Acrylic on canvas
By Yazma Smith

Fresh Gallery Otara is opening from Tuesday – Friday, 10am-5pm; Saturday 8am-2pm
Closed from 26-28 February
Next exhibition, From the Pacific, We Rise – Kila Kokonut Krew: A Retrospective opens on Thursday 28 February at 6pm

Defining Sovereignty – New work by Yazma Smith

Install at Fresh Gallery Otara

Curtis Clearsky performing at the opening of Defining Sovereignty (Thursday 31 January)

The works are all approximately 600x600mm, acrylic paint on cartridge paper. They are available to be traded for goods and services with the artist, Yazma Smith.

DEFINING SOVEREIGNTY is showing at Fresh Gallery Otara from 1-23 February 2008.

More photos from the exhibition