The house is full is an exhibition which considers artistic practices that could be considered on the fringes of anti-establishment art movements in Aotearoa from the 1970s onwards. Each of the artists’ ancestral homes was not Britain and explored different roots in this particular era of cultural transformation.
Prior to this decade, the belief amongst New Zealanders was that they were part of a broader British identity, albeit geographically located in the South Pacific. The 1970s was a historically heightened time of cultural rigidity in Aotearoa, marked by many Māori land protests including lesser-covered disputes like that of Ngāti Hine Forestry dispute, the Dawn Raids and the country’s racially charged immigration policies, which made it difficult for people from specific cultural groups to move to Aotearoa if they seemed unlikely to easily assimilate into New Zealand culture. These disruptive forces prompted an urgency to challenge anglocentric structures of power, which of course included a drive to confront those same structures which formed the values of our national artistic landscape.
Various figures in Aotearoa’s art scene rejected the values of the traditional art establishment, making way for more experimental practices, many of which were sitting in solidarity with those most greatly affected by political upheaval. Artists are recognised for acting in solidarity with modes of resistance to dominant forces, and artists such as Colin McCahon have been recognised for their alignment with values of cultural inclusivity and equality. However, more attention needs to be given to artists that were closely affected by these punitive political shifts. The house is full showcases four artists: Emily Karaka, Parbhu Makan, John Miller and Teuane Tibbo, all of whom were more direct targets of punitive political shifts and who contributed significantly to these artistic movements. Their visions of home were not of Britain, but of a home in Aotearoa and homes that were elsewhere.
About the artists
Emily Anne Karaka
Emily Karaka was born in 1952 in Tāmaki Makaurau, where she continues to live and work. She is of Ngāpuhi and Waikato-Tainui descent and has been exhibiting for more than 40 years.
Her paintings draw on diverse art-making traditions, including toi whakairo and abstract expressionism. Characterised by dazzling colour and emotional intensity, they frequently incorporate text and tie into the artist’s long standing work advocating kaitiakitanga and rangatiratanga: self-determination.
Works by Karaka are held by important Aotearoa institutions, such as Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua. She produced major paintings for the Te Waka Toi Exhibition which toured in America, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, NIRIN (2020) and the landmark Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art at Toi o Tāmaki (2020–21).
Recent and forthcoming exhibitions include Rāhui at Visions (2021); Wahine Māori: The Art of Resistance at Northart (2022); Matarau, curated by Shannon Te Ao, at City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi (2022); Matariki Ring of Fire at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery (2022), which grows out of her 2021 McCahon House residency.
John Miller (Ngaitewake-ki-te-Tuawhenua, Uritaniwha, Ngati Rehia, Te Whiu hapu of Ngapuhi, Scotland, and England) is an independent social documentary photographer, renowned particularly for his protest images as well as capturing events and personalities in Māoridom. John first began serious photography whilst still at college in late 1965. While attending Victoria University in 1969–1970, he became focused on the various protest movements taking place at the time: the activities of the anti-Vietnam War and anti-South African sports tour movements and, later, the first Waitangi protests. John worked as a Craccum (Auckland University Students Association Magazine) photographer in 1972, before moving on to record the first Māori Artists’ and Writers’ Hui, the historic 1975 Māori Land March and the Raglan and Bastion Point occupations. During this time in the mid-1970s, he photographed aspects of the lesser-known Ngati Hine Land/Forestry legal dispute, in the Far North, whilst also being an active participant in that situation.
His work reveals the connections between peace and equality and that peace will not come without freedom for all members of society. He considers himself a self-described sympathetic observer of these manifestations of civilian dissent, saying, “I tend to support the causes that motivate such protests, rallies or meetings”. In 2003, Miller received a Media Peace Prize Lifetime Award, in 2009 was granted the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award, and in 2021 he received a Waka Toi award. Recent exhibitions include Things That Shape Us at Christchurch Art Gallery (2021), Pouwātū: Active Presence at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN and Objectspace (2020 & 2021). He has been featured in publications, including the books By Batons and Barbed Wire, on the 1981 Springbok Tour; Negligent Neighbour, about East Timor, and Hīkoi: Forty Years of Māori Protest.
Parbhu Makan is a photographic artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. He is a third-generation Indian New Zealander, who has kept much of his photographic archive in his home. This collection of photographs is mostly personal documentation of family and friends of Makan that he has captured over several decades. He photographed many performance artists, such as Fiona Clark and Bruce Barber. He was also a performer in composed performance art works, such as Phil Dadson’s works in the 1978 New Zealand Sculptors at Mildura. He has had several group and solo exhibitions at Real Pictures Gallery, a now defunct dealer gallery in Tāmaki Makaurau, including Four Auckland Photographers (1980), An Indian Wedding (1982), Views To Construction (1985), and Parbhu Makan (1985). Other previous exhibitions include Solaris at Matakana Pictures (2005), Parbhu Makan: Self Portraits at Pah Homestead (2020), Groundswell: Avant-Garde Auckland 1971–79 (2019), and a group exhibition at Michael Lett including the work of Juliette Blightman, Kate Newby and Henrik Olesen (2018).
Teuane Tibbo was a Samoan-born New Zealand artist who only started painting in her early 70s during the 1960s. She was born shortly after the end of the Samoan civil war in 1895, in 1926 she moved to Fiji, and in 1945 she settled in Aotearoa with her husband and children. She became a prominent figure in the Auckland art scene in the 60s and 70s, featuring in many exhibitions at Barry Lett Galleries during this period. Tibbo passed away at the age of 89 in 1984. Her work has been included in several group exhibitions including The Innocent Eye at the Dowse Museum (1988), Not Bad Eh! at the Rotorua Museum (1995), Oceania: Imagining the Pacific at City Gallery Wellington (2011), This is a library at Enjoy Public Art Gallery (2020), Stars Start Falling at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery (2021 & 2022) and the retrospective exhibition at Lopdell House, Auckland Keep it in the Heart: The Paintings of Teuane Tibbo.
About Dilohana Lekamge
Dilohana Lekamge is an artist, writer and curator based in Tāmaki Makaurau. She graduated from Massey University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with first class honours. From 2017-2019, she was a Co-Chair and Facilitator at MEANWHILE, an artist-run initiative located in central Te Whanganui-a-Tara. In 2021, she was the Associate Curator at The Performance Arcade 2021. She is the current Gallery Coordinator at Fresh Gallery Ōtara. As a writer, she has contributed texts to several platforms, galleries and publications such as Art New Zealand, The Pantograph Punch, and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, the Adam Art Gallery and Gus Fisher Gallery. As an artist, she has exhibited at RM Art Gallery and Project Space, Window Gallery, Enjoy Contemporary Art Space and the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. In 2021, she was the recipient of RM Art Gallery and Project Space Women’s Moving Image grant. She has been a member of Massey University Wellington Art Collection Committee and the Circuit Moving Image Critical Forum.