• Turumeke Harrington

FELLED presents a selection of mahi from Turumeke Harrington ((Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Rangitāne) that emerged out of, and in the process of developing, her installation SWAMPED, currently displayed in Wellington City Council’s Courtenay Place Lightboxes.

Chloe Cull, curator for the Lightbox project, wrote about the various ways SWAMPED addresses the complex history of the whenua on which Courtenay Place now sits, highlighting the chasm between the aspirations of urban development and its reality.

Te Aro Pā was one of the two largest pā in the Wellington area, occupied at different times by various groups such as Ngāti Mutunga, Taranaki, and Ngāti Ruanui until the late 1800s. The pā was included in the area covered by the New Zealand Company’s Port Nicholson deed of purchase. Following the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Crown failed to protect theinterests of Māori living in the area covered by the deed, including the preservation of their pā and food gathering sites, urupā, and the so called ‘native reserves’ that were promised within the deed.

Harrington’s tumu (stumps) make reference to the survey stakes the New Zealand Company and the Crown used to mark and divide Māori land (with little regard to wāhi tapu), and the removal of these by Māori residents of Wellington Pā in protest. Harrington’s ‘stakes’ however, flip these protests on their head, in their portrayal of strength and permanence, marking the resilience of Māori in the area through a kind of reforestation. She marks a place for herself, too, in a city that she finds increasingly hard to afford. Harrington works from a studio in her house, as space for artists in the city becomes scarce. As the cost of living, housing crisis, looming natural disasters, and climate change become all consuming, one could be forgiven for feeling overcome. The title, SWAMPED, is at once, a reference to both the original swamplands that provided residents of Te Aro Pā with food and resources, and to the overwhelming nature of modern life.

FELLED continues this line of playful cynicism, seemingly alluding to the aftermath of some great disaster and a consideration of those vestiges that remain. In keeping with Harrington's ability to work across numerous mediums simultaneously, and her relentless curiosity regarding the characteristics and outer limits of materials, Harrington’s stumps are presented here in various print and sculptural forms, including earrings with silver engravings set amid a nest of feathers.

Chloe Cull (Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi te Ruahikihiki) is an Ōtautahi-based curator, writer, and educator of who works as Pouarataki Curator Māori at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. She has worked in both arts and education since moving to Ōtautahi in 2017 including as an Across-School Lead (Culturally Responsive Practice) for Ngā Mātāpuna o Ngā Pakihi Kāhui Ako, andas Arts Programme Coordinator at Te Ara Ātea in Rolleston. Currently she isChair of the Physics Room Board of Trustees and was previously a Toi Māori intern at The Dowse Art Museum, and Assistant Curator at Govett Brewster Art Gallery.

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