• Peata Larkin
  • Chris Heaphy
  • Paul Dibble
  • Michael Hight
  • Chris Bailey
  • Israel Tangaroa Birch
Milford Galleries Aotearoa Art Fair

Peata Larkin
Peata Larkin’s paintings operate at the junction of diverse visual and conceptual traditions. Cultural narratives from her Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and Ngāti Tuhourangi background are encoded in patterns that allude to digital information, binary opposites, and the gridlines of weaving.

At the heart of Larkin’s practice is the use of paint in a way that exploits its physical properties in order to illustrate the artist’s chosen concepts. According to a set pattern, paint is pushed through holes in mesh or plexiglass from the reverse to create painterly ‘pixels’ on the surface of each work. Seen up close, Larkin’s works are tactile and sculptural; they emphasise the materiality of the medium she uses. As distance is placed between the viewer and the work, these individual elements come into focus as part of an overall pattern. The painting’s reading shifts from an exploration of painterly process, form, and plasticity to a matrix containing specific information to be decoded.

This shift from concrete to abstract illustrates the socio-cultural dualities that Larkin continues to explore. She draws from twentieth-century theories of abstraction in painting and at the same time uses patterns which are layered with meaning and firmly embedded within te ao Māori. Recent works have explored the way in which Western scientific traditions fit with the holistic celestial knowledge of Māori navigators.

Peata Larkin (b.1973) is of Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and Ngāti Tuhourangi descent. A graduate of the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, she completed her Master’s degree at RMIT University, Melbourne in 2007. In 2018 Larkin was awarded the prestigious Kaipara Wallace Arts Trust Award, which provides a three-month residency at the Altes Spital in Solothurn, Switzerland. Her work is part of important collections both internationally and throughout New Zealand including the Memphis Museum of Fine Arts in USA.

Chris Heaphy
Chris Heaphy’s painting practice explores the way we perceive time, place, and memory through multiple layers of meaning and experiences, reflecting on how these may be interpreted from various cultural perspectives. Heaphy is an artist of Māori and European descent and often explores notions of cultural identity. His paintings exist as both a constructed object—made up of varied imagery and painted surfaces—but also as a contemplative and reflective space, where for the viewer, time and memory have an altered place to inhabit outside the everyday.

Paul Dibble
Born 1943, Waitakaruru in the Thames district Lives and works in Palmerston North, New Zealand

Paul Dibble started making sculpture in a make-shift workshop at the end of their property in the late 1970s. As his career gained momentum he moved to an industrial warehouse in the mid-1990s, before establishing his own foundry in 2000. Since then Dibble has cast his work with the help of a small team of highly skilled assistants - one of very few New Zealand sculptors to cast their own work in bronze.

The human figure, objects drawn from contemporary life, and the history of New Zealand and the Pacific form the subjects of his work. These objects and figures form fragments of many narratives. Ideas which begin as beautiful fluid line drawings are worked and reworked to a point of perfect balance before being modeled and cast.

A high point of his career is the successful commission of The New Zealand Hyde Park Corner Memorial in London. The permanent sculpture was unveiled in Hyde Park in 2006 by Her Majesty the Queen. Dibble’s work is represented in public collections across the country including Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. His work is the subject of two monographs The Large Works (Bateman 2012) and Paul Dibble (Bateman, 2002). Gow Langsford Gallery has represented Paul Dibble since 1990.

Michael Hight
In his hyper-real paintings of beehives and their settings, Michael Hight makes close observations of the land, using these to comment on wider histories of both the human and geological environment. His landscapes may appear uninhabited at first glance but hint at human settlement and the teeming life within the ever-present beehives. At once intimate and grand, Hight’s paintings speak of not only where we live, but how we live there.

Parallel to this practice, Hight has been developing what he calls his ‘night’ paintings. Figures, landscape fragments, and disparate objects are placed in a stark, stage-like setting to produce surreal, thought-provoking tableaux. The solid black background in each painting provides no context for the subjects and the relationships between each is ‘hidden in plain sight’, leaving the viewer to construct a narrative for each work. He examines the nature of our external and internal environments.

Born in Stratford in 1961, Michael Hight gained a Bachelor of Social Sciences from University of Waikato in 1982, following which he travelled, lived and painted in London for three years. He has regularly exhibited since 1984 and has been a full-time artist since 2001. He has received several QEII grants and his work is held in many New Zealand collections including the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, the Chartwell Collection and The James Wallace Trust.

Chris Bailey
Drawing on his Ngāti Hako, Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Porou and Irish ancestries, Chris Bailey’s sculptures are physical and symbolic markers of place, identity, and history. Predominantly working in stone and wood, Bailey exploits the characteristics of each medium to their fullest; his wooden ‘pou’ reach skywards and rounded stone forms possess a weightiness that extends far beyond physical mass.

“I create each piece from a personal journey. The stones resonate. They hold their own energy when I'm working with them. The combination of energy and the land I'm working on fuels me and the end result does surprise me.” (1)

One of Bailey’s commissions, Pou Tu te Rangi (2011), stands in the Sanctuary Garden of Auckland’s Britomart Precinct. The seven pou represent a family and Bailey explores ideas of “te kotahitanga (being as one), te piritahi (coming together), and te mahi tahi (working as one).” (2)

Based on Waiheke Island, with an academic background in Māori Culture and Heritage, Bailey has worked as an artist for over 20 years and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. He has been awarded a number of Creative New Zealand grants and in 2010 was the subject of a documentary Chris Bailey – Ringa Whao, which looked at his journey to becoming a sculptor. Bailey has been recognised by the New Zealand Art Council for his stone work and as such granted Toi Iho status which formally recognises authentic Maori art of a high artistic quality. In 2009 he was one of a selection of designers and artists whose work was shown in the New Zealand Room at La Maddalena, the 53rd Venice Biennale. His work appears in many private and public collections, most notably the New Zealand Maritime Museum, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the New Zealand Arts Council

  1. Chris Bailey, Artist statement.
  2. Britomart (2012). What’s On. Retrieved from

Israel Tangaroa Birch
“I pull all that I can into my work. I am inspired by everything from swimming to listening to music to watching my two daughters painting. Life should be inspiring”. (1)

Israel Tangaroa Birch (Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Tawake, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka) is considered one of New Zealand’s most talented young Māori artists. Working with steel and lacqueur, the mirror polish of his patterned works appears to absorb light and then refract it back from layers that sit just below the surface of the picture plane. The entire work becomes suffused with luminous colour and rich shadows, and ripples as the viewer or the light source shifts.

Birch’s works are the result of grinding and carving into steel and they seem to retain this tactility of their making. There is a sense that the movement and sound produced in their creation is embedded into the material of the work itself.

Birch holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Eastern Institute of Technology, Napier, and a Masters in Maori Visual Arts at Massey University. He has received several significant awards including the Norsewear Art Award 2006, 2005 and 2004, and the Te Karahipi o Te Waka Toi Award in 2005.

Birch is a lecturer at Massey University’s Te Pūtahi-a-Toi – the School of Māori Art, Knowledge and Education in the Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts programme, and is a full-time practicing artist. He has had solo and group exhibitions throughout New Zealand and in Australia, Canada and Europe

Roger Mortimer Roger Mortimer produces paintings, and more recently tapestries, depicting epic and metaphorical stories of navigation and transformation, drawing on 15th century illustrated manuscripts of the famous poem The Divine Comedy by the Italian poet Dante. This imagery is set on contemporary marine charts of Aotearoa New Zealand. In acknowledgement of prior occupation, Mortimer has removed European place names on his ‘maps’ and replaced them with Māori names some well-known, others marking lesser known places, mountains, rivers and events. Linda Tyler has observed that in referencing the country’s dual histories and bringing together European painting with Māori history, without any appropriation or borrowing of symbolism, Roger can be seen to be ahead of his time.

The subtle presence of the artist in most work suggests not only a quest for a personal cosmology but also awareness of the historical and political usage of maps. The artist is the navigator crossing cultural and temporal frontiers, the Pakeha linking the medieval European and the South Pacific. But as art writer Sam Melser has written “he’s no captain of a ship of the western colonising tradition”. A drive to understand Māori perspectives has been part of Roger’s practice since he first went to art school and went through the Te Toi Hou (Māori Arts) program at Elam where he was taught by Brett Graham and completed a BFA.

In 2014 Mortimer was the Paramount Award Winner in the Wallace Art Awards with the judge describing his work as “medieval in appearance and utterly contemporary contemporary in intent”. In 2017, a mid-career survey exhibition was shown in public galleries in Wellington and Auckland. His work is a range of collections in New Zealand, Europe and Asia. In 2021, a bilingual English/French book was published: Apocrypha: The Maps of Roger Mortimer. Eds: Billie Lythberg, Sam Melser & Deborah Walker-Morrison, Index Publishing, 2021.

Milford Galleries, active nationally and internationally, is acknowledged as one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent dealer galleries, representing New Zealand artists of international and national importance as well as emerging artists across a diverse range of media.

Operating in Dunedin since 1989 and additionally in Queenstown since 2003, Milford Galleries undertakes a dynamic exhibition programme at both locations.

It routinely places works with key collectors, at leading New Zealand, Australian and major international institutions, and curates and tours exhibitions nationally and internationally.