A play­ful take on Ki­wiana

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

It’s Ki­wiana, but not as you know it – New Zealand icons are be­ing given a sub­ver­sive spin by a Ti­tahi Bay man in an ex­hi­bi­tion this week.

Sculp­tor and The Hob­bit light­ing tech­ni­cian Mark Newn­ham is ex­hibit­ing three pieces in Un­scripted, a showcase of art cre­ated by Welling­ton’s film in­dus­try work­ers.

Mr Newn­ham tends to­wards sculp­tures that play on New Zealand’s colo­nial past, a sub­ject he is fas­ci­nated with.

The 45-year-old ar­rived in New Zealand from Lon­don at age five with his ‘‘£50 Pom’’ par­ents.

His first taste of Ki­wiana was a green plas­tic tiki Air New Zealand gave to pas­sen­gers at the time, and themes of Maoridom and colo­nial­ism have in­ter­ested him ever since.

Mr Four Square is one of his most pop­u­lar hard­wood sculp­tures, and he has copped flak for a large tiki sculp­ture which ref­er­ences Ed­vard Munch’s paint­ing The Scream.

Mr Newn­ham re­sponded to crit­ics who said he wasn’t ‘‘Kiwi enough’’ to use Maori sym­bols by point­ing out that he grew up among Maori in Ngaru­awahia.

‘‘If that isn’t liv­ing amongst the cul­ture, what is?’’ he says.

‘‘We’ve all ar­rived here; [there’s] just a bit of a time dif­fer­ence.’’

Sports Bunny, a sculp­ture Mr Ne­wham is show­ing in Un­scripted, epit­o­mises his ir­rev­er­ent at­ti­tude to colo­nial­ism.

Rab­bits

were

seen

as

cute, quintessen­tially English ‘‘Peter Rab­bit’’ an­i­mals by early set­tlers, who im­ported them to make New Zealand feel like their home­land.

The crit­ters soon took over and are now the bane of farm­ers’ lives.

For his rab­bit sculp­ture Sports Bunny, Mr Newn­ham used a nat­u­ral eye in the wood to de­pict a bul­let wound in the bunny’s fore­head. ‘‘I just think that whole colo­nial­ism thing was very funny,’’ he says.

The Un­scripted ex­hi­bi­tion runs un­til Septem­ber 9 at St James The­atre, Courte­nay Pl, Welling­ton.

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