Toi Waihanga

Raewyn Tauira Paterson
and Tim Whaitiri Henderson

Muse Art Gallery, Havelock North
3 - 30 July 2022

Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua.
I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past.

This whakataukī illustrates Te Ao Māori perspective on time, the collective taonga of culture informing the construction of the future. In order for art and culture to survive and thrive we must be open to innovation, to change and grow. At the same time, we stand on the shoulders of giants, cultivating a healthy respect for tradition. 

In Toi Waihanga accomplished artists Raewyn Tauira Paterson and Tim Whaitiri-Henderson straddle worlds, weaving together present and past, art and craft. Previously they came together to create the tukutuku panels and Kaho Paetara (skirting) adorning EIT’s marae, Te Ara o Tāwhaki. Now they bring their work from the marae to the mainstream, creating scaled-down pieces for gallery and home spaces. 

The works marry traditional forms with modern design and execution. The artists use laser cutting techniques to create incredibly intricate motifs in breathtaking detail. Whaitiri-Henderson layers cut out sheets to build up images that play with shadow and light. He innovates with electricity, illuminating works to enhance their impact. His light boxes are triumphs of both style and function, as beautiful as they are practical.

Tauira Paterson’s instinctive affinity for pattern and hue shines through her pieces. Expertly inlaid stained wood comes together to create works that are wonderfully resolved, kindly guiding the eye across their surfaces. They are both reassuringly familiar and beautifully new, variations on a theme that flow like a well-oiled jazz riff.

Now in this time of Matariki, we are invited to integrate the wisdoms of the past with the imaginings of the future, to elevate toi Māori to gallery walls. These pieces speak to the dawning of a new age of artistry, one where everyone has a place at the table.

Reviewed by Rosheen Fitzgerald 

Toi Waihanga Exhibition opening: (left-right) Tim Whaitiri Henderson, Raewyn Tauira Paterson and Dr. Sandy Adsett.

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