Aotearoa Art Fair : Stand A9

16 - 20 November 2022

Auckland Waterfront

The Cloud, 89 Quay Street

Feature Presentation

Tungane Broadbent | Reuben Paterson 


Group Exhibition

Mahiriki Tangaroa | Benjamin Work | Telly Tuita | Nina Oberg Humphries | Shannon Novak | Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine | Heather Straka | Gavin Jones | Raymond Sagapolutele | Sylvia Marsters.


Nga Meka Tui Kura

The pairing of artists Tungane Broadbent (Cook Islands) & Reuben Paterson (Aotearoa, New Zealand) is an intriguing blend of dualities. They would seem to have little in common, point of origin, generation, gender, orientation, spiritual philosophy, art practice & materials. Yet when you combine their distinct artforms, these differences while at once highlighted, are cause for celebration.


Broadbent's Tivaivai are authoritative transcripts of the Cook Islands colonial and post colonial culture. These large, laborious, time consuming hand sewn fabrics speak mostly to a time before iPhones, the internet & demanding work schedules. Tivaivai are the product of Cook Islands' women, usually gathered in groups to sew these precious artworks as statements for occasion. They were communal in foundation and spoke for events of collective importance, the stories of family, experience and time that are stitched into the fabric are of immeasurable value.


Tivaivai are remarkable examples of patience, love and character. They pulse with the energy of their surround, incorporating bright colours, flower and plant motif, urban and religious symbols. The patterns that have developed and the methods by which they are cut and sewn, have a distinct Cook Islands' flavour. They occupy a place of ceremonial and cultural pride. For Broadbent, the creation of Tivaivai is second nature, she possesses the skill to cut patterns and sew. She has an inherent calling to assemble knowledge that was and still is, for now. But the now has changed, today we all live a busier lifestyle, her long-time collaborative partner Vereara Maeva -Taripo has passed on, and it is now only the occasional 'mama' who joins her quiet workplace.


Today, Tungane Broadbent remains an important keeper of Tivaivai tradition.  She is one of the few.


Broadbent's compositions are floral, in the style of Tivaivai Tataura (embroidery) and Tivaivai Manu (two tone). Orchid, Hibiscus, Tiare Māori, Christmas Lily, and Roses are subject matters of this collection, a combination of European and Polynesian ethos. This is not surprising given the origin of this artform. Tivaivai are a unique combination of European quilting and Cook Islands' compositional construct. These fabrics blend the experience of two very distinct cultures, to produce a contemporary Pacific artwork of distinction.


Paterson's glitter paintings are infused with uninhibited passion. His paintings present as a kaleidoscope of stimulus. Paterson's influence is close to his heart; his culture, family and orientation propel his energy. His philosophy is both personal and esoteric - edifying, empowering and inclusive. He creates an intimate portrait of unlimited effect. For Paterson, diversity is his superpower. He openly celebrates the fact that we are all composed differently, and that within our differentiation lies our true strength. He is a leading artist of his generation.


Paterson's glitter symphonies return to his popular botanical format, unifying New Zealand native plants and flowers with decorative tropical collaborators. The New Zealand flora in these new paintings have been chosen for their declared spiritual energy. The artist has even had physical remedies created from these plants and literally imbued them into the canvases they represent. For Paterson, this is an essential element, these paintings don't just depict these plants and flowers, they contain their healing and spiritual essence.

Paterson reaches further. The tropical plants portrayed are outwardly decorative, further manipulated by the artists media. They are overtly showy and threaten to overwhelm the foundation of the composition. They demand attention for a reason. In part they acknowledge his late father's gardening style of blending tropical and New Zealand plants, the artist moving closer to a spiritual manifestation of these gardens. In essence Paterson turns his father's gardens into cherished works of art - an intriguing duality of the dead and the living. They also recognize unity with Broadbent and their shared whakapapa.


Paterson and Broadbent have combined before, in the exhibition 'Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday (Bergman Gallery Rarotonga, 2017). The exhibition presented as a conversation between the two artforms, a call and response. Paterson's sparkling florals were a direct reaction to Broadbent's vibrant Tivaivai and a shared cultural link to Rarotonga, acknowledging his earlier work where he painted kōwhaiwhai in non-traditional colours after his father's passing, and his descent lines to Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe and Tūhourangi. He said at the time; "Those same descent lines will always make me think of The Garden of Seven Stones in Ngatangiia Harbour, Rarotonga. Those descent lines and connections can all be traced back to here because it's all a part of the whakapapa"

Nga Meka - Tui Kura offers a different point of view. Together the artists have constructed a metaphorical garden of flowers to deliver their narrative. Both artists are avid gardeners themselves. From any garden comes an appreciation of nature, its beauty and fragility. Gardens are complex micro ecosystems, they require time and patience, love, respect, and consideration. They can teach us much about ourselves. These pillars underpin the foundation of this presentation.


Within this construct, Broadbent reaches through the past to explore traditional and non-traditional floral patterns, composed and sewn in a uniquely Pacific manner. She acknowledges the blend of European and Pacific cultures from an Island perspective, her lived experience, values and beliefs merged perfectly within the stitching of the Tivaivai. Her artworks pay tribute to a time past and questions the emergent identity of a modern Polynesian nation.  Paterson takes a spiritual journey of self and surround. He is entirely comfortable within his own skin, and it shows. These botanical glitter paintings are in full effect, bright, powerful, enthralling, infused with message and purpose. In a time of turbulence, he offers to heal. Where differences are declared, he brightly proclaims that we look beyond the obvious to find common cause.


Together their story is Nga Meka - Tui Kura, where the ties that bind weave a beautiful thread to tell the story of us all. 


Ben Bergman.