23 Nov 2018
Dr Brett Graham (Tainui, Ngāti Kōroki Kahukura) is the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s Creative New Zealand Artist in Residence for 2019.
Graham undertook part of his two month residency in Taranaki in 2018 to research local strategies of resistance to colonisation. He will return in 2020 to construct and present a major solo exhibition opening in April 2020. The exhibition is curated by Anna-Marie White (Te Ātiawa) and supported by a publication featuring local and international writers.
This exhibition takes the form of a site-specific installation that ranges through all floors and galleries of the original Govett-Brewster Gallery site.
The project contributes to the national commemorations of the 250th anniversary of the first onshore encounters between Māori and non-Māori, and the feats of Polynesian navigators and explorers who reached and settled in Aotearoa New Zealand many years earlier.
Tuia - Encounters 250 will be marked by events throughout the country. Graham’s art work responds to local histories of that period and examines how the relationship between his people, Tainui, and Taranaki Māori was affected by European encounter.
Brett Graham is a sculptor who creates large scale artworks and installations that explore indigenous histories, politics and philosophies. Graham works from Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) though has been a constant traveller through his career, undertaking a range of residences through Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, North America, Asia and Europe. Graham conceives his Māori whakapapa as a Pasifika/Moana identity and affiliated with a global network of indigenous and non-Western peoples. It is from this basis that Graham's work engages with histories of imperialism and global indigenous issues, and practises at the forefront of the international indigenous art movement.
Graham is a well-established and highly recognised artist within Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad. He rose to prominence as a contemporary Māori artist in the 1990s with a number of sculptural installation-based solo exhibitions held at galleries through the country, featuring in major exhibitions of contemporary Māori art, and, completing major public commissions for sites such as the Auckland University of Technology, The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Parliament grounds in Wellington. In this same period he also developed his international practice, being selected for important Biennale and Triennial events and is now recognised as a leading figure in the formation of the international indigenous artists network. In recent years Brett has balanced teaching at a number of art schools with a schedule of regular exhibitions, residencies and speaking engagements within New Zealand and abroad.