• Dr. Gwyn Easterbrook-Smith
  • Robbie Handcock
  • Kane Laing
  • Elisabeth Pointon
  • John Sturgess

There is a small creature called a mongoose whose nature it is to fight snakes. Whenever they meet, they fight, and when the poison of the snake enters the body of the mongoose through a bite, the mongoose runs away from the fight and goes to smell a certain type of herb. By smelling this particular herb, the poison of the snake is neutralised and the mongoose is restored to health. He then returns to the fight, and this process can go on as long as the fight continues. It is always the snake that is killed.

The Mongoose and the Snake takes its departure from a story first seen in the Panchatantra, an ancient Indian collection of interrelated animal fables in Sanskrit verse and prose, arranged within a frame story. This narrative of perpetual struggle highlights the dynamic interplay between opposing forces that define and sustain one another—each cannot exist in its totality without the other.

Curated by Elisabeth Pointon, this exhibition features work by Dr. Gwyn Easterbrook-Smith, Robbie Handcock, Kane Laing with support from Dani Terrizz and Allan Clayton, Elisabeth Pointon, and John Sturgess, who at different stages in their careers and practices challenge power relations, pose alternative meanings, and at times evoke comfort and hope.

Pointon’s practice is founded on institutional critique, and as such has used this exhibition as an opportunity to highlight the potential for collective understanding and action. Like many of her works, there are multiple references to her experiences as a queer, Indo-Fijian and Pakeha artist living, working, and making in Aotearoa.

In this exhibition, Pointon uses text that looks into this idea of cosmic balance. Dr. Gwyn Easterbrook-Smith, a sex worker and academic, examines how various forms of labour are perceived and represented. Robbie Handcock returns to the studio revisiting mediums, approaches, and what they might do differently now. Drawing on his diverse experience as a visual artist and curator, Kane Laing introduces a nuanced reinterpretation of a traditional game, reconsidering its historical and cultural layers. John Sturgess adds a touch of whimsy and personal history, weaving his vivid imagination and unique flair into works that nod to the exhibition's central conflict.

Opening Hours

  • Wednesday – Friday, 11am – 5pm
  • Saturday, 11am – 4pm


  • Level 1, 85 Victoria Street
  • Te Aro
  • Te Whanganui-A-Tara, Wellington