Fibrous Soul

02 Mar - 16 Jun 2024

Considering journeys and states of transition across multiple timescales, sites and species, Fibrous Soul presents major new and recent works by Aotearoa-based artist Sorawit Songsataya, alongside a new installation by Maata Wharehoka.

This exhibition follows the artist’s thought as it has developed over the past two years, mapping periods of time spent living between Te Waipounamu, Taranaki, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. The project departs from Songsataya’s body of work Nirun, which was originally developed during the artist’s 2022 Frances Hodgkins Fellowship in Ōtepoti Dunedin, here re-imagined for the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s architecture.

The component parts of Nirun, comprising of sculptural installation and moving image works, track the artist’s inquiries into complex processes of geological formation, attrition and renewal particular to Te Waipounamu, as well as multiple histories of human and animal habitation. Throughout, the artist gives form to various measures that record time, continuity and change—from the compressed bodies of microscopic organisms which makeup the structure of Ōamaru stone; to the nesting cycles of kōtuku in Te Tai Poutini, the West Coast of Te Waipounamu; to the accumulation of fruit peel, shells, and false eyelashes and nails which provide a record of time spent living, working and making.

Interwoven into the exhibition, newly conceived works extend the artist’s enquiries, drawing upon materials sourced from and relationships developed within the places Songsataya has inhabited - Taranaki andesite, Ōamaru stone, rattan sourced from a grower near Chiang Rai, where the artist’s mother lives, and sedge mats woven by women from the artist’s grandmother’s village in Thailand. In chorus, these works pose questions of mobility and shifting relations to place, the mutually dependent responsibilities of guest and host, the role of sound and music in measuring duration, as well as the many narratives people have arrived at to make sense of beyond-human forces.

In conversation with Songsataya’s work will be a new installation by Parihaka-based artist and kaitiaki of Te Niho o Te Atiawa Parahuka marae Maata Wharehoka (Ngāti Tahinga, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Apakura, Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Kuia), who has been instrumental in the regeneration of kahu whakatere - tikanga Māori death and burial practices. Utilising harakeke and muka taura (rope) braided by the artist and her whānau, Wharehoka’s contribution speaks to ongoing efforts to normalise and revitalise cultural practice, acting as an affirmation of sovereignty.

Working together to consider both the physical world we inhabit, and possibilities beyond it, Fibrous Soul attempts to make porous boundaries between states of proximity and distance, vibrancy and inertia, life and non-life.

Public Programmes 

Sat 02 Mar 2024 | 10:30AM | Opening Weekend Artist Talk: Sorawit Songsataya in conversation with Maata Wharehoka

Sat 23 Mar 2024 | 11:00AM | Curator Tour: Fibrous Soul, Set Dressing & Energtopia

Sat 04 May 2024 | 1:00PM | Visualisation of Sound

Sat 18 May 2024 | 1:00PM | Transcience Set in Stone