Bartley & Company Art is delighted to present a major new site-specific installation by Brett Graham alongside two new wall works. Join the gallery for the opening on Thursday 19 May, 5.30-7.30pm.

In this time of rising sea levels, climate crisis, pandemic, war, terrorist attacks and great polarisation of views, Brett Graham’s Ark of forbearance raises questions, both ancient and acutely contemporary, about the nature of belief and faith.

As the ark itself reminds of us apocalyptic floods and the faith of Noah, this ark of forbearance has broad-ranging global connotations, and specific local references to the passive resistance of the people of Parihaka and the oratory of their great 19th century leader Te Whiti, from which the exhibition takes its title. On the eve of the invasion Te Whiti told his people: “Forbearance is the sole ark of your safety. As Noah built the ark to carry his people safely through the flood, so let fortitude be the ark to save you.”

Conceived earlier this year during the occupation of Parliament grounds, the work reflects Graham’s interest in why we believe what we believe and the way ‘logic’ can be redefined to cope with adversity.

Graham’s vessel, filling the gallery space, operates like work of the great American artist Richard Serra, to force us to physically experience the weight and materiality of sculpture. But here that weight is also lent to a consideration of the precariousness of faith.

The installation is accompanied by two spherical wall sculptures: Manawanui and Aceldama. In these works, hand-carved lines radiate out from a central point – lines converging and dispersing. This pattern speaks to the material and immaterial, to physical actions in the world such as tsunami, and to the spread of beliefs with ideas starting in one place impacting and influencing elsewhere. The titles of these works also draw from Te Whiti, who is regarded as one of the world’s great pacifist leaders alongside and preceding Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther-King and Nelson Mandela.

Brett Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura) is a prominent contemporary New Zealand artist whose work has been included in exhibitions all over the world. Highlights internationally include the Honolulu Biennale 2017, the Venice Biennale 2007, the Sydney Biennale 2006 and 2010 and the 2013 survey of international indigenous art at the National Gallery of Canada. His recent major exhibition Tai Moana Tai Tangata, shown to date at the Govett Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth and at City Gallery Wellington is considered one of the most powerful and historically significant solo exhibitions ever to be staged in New Zealand. History and power relations are the predominant themes of Graham’s work and Tai Moana Tai Tangata is a multi-layered exploration of the New Zealand wars of the mid-19th century.


  • Thu 19 May


  • 5:30 pm — 7:30 pm


  • Level 2/22 Garrett Street
  • Te Aro
  • Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington 6011