Colo­nial past ex­am­ined in flag ex­hi­bi­tion

Papakura Courier - - FRONT PAGE - NIGEL MOFFIET

Bri­tish coloni­sa­tion and el­e­ments of the Union Jack flag are be­ing rep­re­sented in a South Auck­land artist’s first solo show.

Pa­pakura Art Gallery is host­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion en­ti­tled Tau­tua by lo­cal artist Pas­cal Atiga-Bridger which runs un­til Novem­ber 25.

Atiga-Bridger is in his third year of study for a cre­ative arts de­gree at Manukau In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

Col­lab­o­rat­ing with fel­low artists and driv­ing com­mu­ni­ty­fo­cused projects is a pas­sion for him, he says.

This ap­proach helped form part of the ex­hi­bi­tion through a col­lab­o­ra­tion with stu­dents from Red­hill Pri­mary School where he at­tended as a child.

Atiga-Bridger in­vited stu­dents to make their own flags dur­ing work­shops at the gallery. These pieces, which draw on stu­dents’ iden­tity and cul­ture, are dis­played in the gallery’s front win­dow dur­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion.

His work re­places the orig­i­nal colours on the Union Jack with those of the Maori flag and sur­round­ing coun­tries such as Samoa, Niue, Tahiti and Pa­pua New Guinea. It seeks to il­lus­trate some of the ef­fects of Bri­tish coloni­sa­tion.

‘‘The re­sults sym­bol­ise the con­nec­tion some of these is­lands have with the United King­dom through coloni­sa­tion,’’ he says.

The project also draws upon his own di­verse fam­ily cul­ture with a whaka­papa that in­cludes Maori, Samoan, Euro­pean and Ni­uean lin­eage, he says.

Atiga-Bridger has also been re­search­ing how in­dige­nous flags and tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary art prac­tices in Pa­cific na­tions may have been shaped by colo­nial in­flu­ences.

‘‘This is help­ing me de­velop a deeper un­der­stand­ing of how to por­tray my fam­ily’s iden­tity within my cur­rent works,’’ he says.

He’s also been in­flu­enced by ac­claimed Amer­i­can painter and print­maker Jasper Johns whose work draws heav­ily on de­pic­tions of the United States flag.

Johns has painted more than 40 pieces based on the flag in­clud­ing news­pa­per col­lage works.

Atiga-Bridger says he’s ex­cited to be dis­play­ing his first show in the area he calls home.

‘‘There may be some sim­i­lar­i­ties in how my art­works can con­nect with my au­di­ence, the Pa­pakura com­mu­nity ... my art is for them,’’ he says.

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