Colonial past examined in flag exhibition
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.