Sriwhana Spong <em>a hook but no fish</em> 2017, film still. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett

Sriwhana Spong a hook but no fish 2017, film still. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett


12 May — 22 Jul 2018

Sriwhana Spong: a hook but no fish

This exhibition follows the artist’s research into the Lingua Ignota, a language invented by 12th-century mystic Hildegard von Bingen during her 39 years at Disibodenberg monastery, Germany. Supposedly a language received by Hildegard through divine inspiration, the Lingua Ignota is thought to have been a secret language used to increase solidarity amongst Hildegard’s fellow sisters.


Sriwhana Spong, who is based in London, is the 2018 Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Aotearoa New Zealand Artist in Residence.

Curated by Tendai John Mutambu

The residency is supported by Creative New Zealand Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa


Central to the exhibition is a new film partially shot at the site of the monastery where an 8-year-old Hildegard was interned with two other women. Spong also presents a musical bell plate influenced by Balinese Gamelan tradition, highlighting how sound can often be a unique indicator of place, history and custom. Elsewhere, a series of ‘sigils’ – painted symbols considered to have magical powers – spell out the name of a critically endangered bird endemic to the island of Bali.

a hook but no fish includes works shown in Spong’s exhibition at London’s Pump House Gallery (10 Jan – 1 Apr) along with several new pieces, which the artist will create while on a two-month residency at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth.