Young artist’s search for understanding
Artist Chevron Te Whetumatarau Hassett’s work is always deeply personal.
Through his photo essays and graphic art, the 22-year-old from Lower Hutt seeks to understand his family and identity.
Hassett, a photographer, visual artist and graphic artist, was one of two emerging young Maori artists recognised at the Te Waka Toi Awards, on the weekend.
His most recent project, Ko Toku Taumata Tonu, Ko Hawaiki, explored his heritage and relationship with his father, who died unexpectedly last year.
‘‘Since he died I have grown up a lot,’’ Hassett said.
It also changed the way he viewed his work. ‘‘That kind of gave me the perspective to make things a bit more than just a picture.
‘‘From there, I did a solo project. It was about me finding peace from that.’’
His latest projects include photographing Maori who grew up in Australia, and a long-term project to explore his iwi, Ngati Porou. ’’All these projects are intertwined and kind of relate to each other: understanding my father, understanding myself, understanding my tribe.’’
Hassett had an ‘‘enriched childhood’’ growing up on Koraunui Marae in Stokes Valley.
His grandparents ‘‘invested in Maoridom’’ but he steered away from it at college, he said.
His work is an opportunity to circle back to his roots. ‘‘With my personal work I am really pushing to do work so that future generations can look back and see how our tribe is.
‘‘I am really young, only 22, try- ing to go through the right process and follow the protocols to allow the work to have more meaning.’’
Hassett said he was honoured to receive an award and to be recognised on the same night as one of his idols, artist Cliff Whiting.
He sees it as a culmination of his hard work and dedication. ‘‘I am really proud and really happy that I was able to get to this point. I knew I could do it, I knew I could take things seriously.
‘‘This is just a little pat on the back ... this is helping me keep on the right path.’’
Hassett and Briar Grace-Smith were the two recipients of the Nga Manu Pirere, recognising achievement by a young Maori artist at an early career stage.
Chevron Te Whetumatarau Hassett has won one of two awards for achievement by a young Maori artist. Above, one of his photos.