Auckland Art Fair: Stand B8

24 - 27 February 2021

Auckland Waterfront

The Cloud, 89 Quay Street


Feature Presentation: Sylvia Marsters, Introspective

Group Exhibition: Mahiriki Tangaroa | Raymond Sagapolutele


Sylvia Marsters | Introspective

Born & raised in Aotearoa, artist Sylvia Marsters is of Cook Islands descent and Gardenias have long been a subject close to her heart. She states, ‘Painting the revered Gardenia was a duty, albeit a labor of love.’ Drawing from her father’s Pacific Islands heritage and her Mothers obsessive enthusiasm for gardening, the artist has painted Gardenias in increasing detail throughout her career. Universally treasured for its hypnotic scent, thick waxy petal & sculptural form, these regal flowers capture the senses, evoking memory & connection. In Rarotonga, they are ever-present. They are the scent and embodiment of a tropical locale, invoking a fantastical experience of romance, optimism and self.

Marster’s Gardenias are represented in hyper detail, full evergreen shrubs with white flowers in various stages of bloom, some are buds, and some have reached the end of their brief life spans. The mood of the paintings varies, from almost surreal to high definition. They are painted in various sizes, from a relatively demure, small canvas to commanding, large square images.


For the artist, these flowers link her heritage with her present reality – the Gardenias of Aitutaki, where her father was born, and the Gardenias of Auckland, where she lives. Within these compositions, Marsters debates her sense of place, reconciling past stories of a romanticized Island lifestyle with the realities of urban existence in a modern city.


For the viewer, the artist asks you to slow down and appreciate the process of personal observation, if only for a moment, to block out the chaos of everyday life, and become lost in the wealth of sensation and detail in the composition in front of you. These flowers evoke strong emotional connections, leading you down personal paths of remembrance, to each, a different experience awaits.


Mahiriki Tangaroa | Custodians & Kinship

For the Auckland Art Fair, Tangaroa’s paintings have been painted either side of the global pandemic. The new triptych Custodians and Kinship encompasses the works Walking on Sunshine, Between Wind & Ocean and Between Land & Mankind. The artist states, “these works were created as an extension of the Earth, Wind and Fire series in a bid to generate discussion on our fundamental elements of land, ocean and sun. It questions how, as custodians, are we best protecting, conserving and strengthening our natural resources, critical to our health and livelihood as a small island nation.” 
Accompanying these paintings is a new series inspired by her 2020 solo show, In a Perfect World. Stylistically, the artist has moved away from her more formal construct, as the world changed, so did she. Tangaroa’s new works present powerful colour studies and disambiguated construct. As reality struggles to comprehend the now, everything around us will change.


Raymond Sagapolutele | O Lona Uiga

What have we become and what will we become? Raymond Sagapolutele’s photographic triptych for the 2021 Auckland Art Fair reconciles Pacific constructs of past, present and future, a powerful narrative delivered within his ancestor skull motif.

Tagata Uli, knowledge of the past, the ancestor skull is fully encircled by a flower Kahoa, made by Kilistina Nafe and gifted to the artist on a visit to an Auckland primary school to witness the impact of cultural practice and indigenous knowledge on a younger generation. The Kahoa is bright and constructed from synthetic material. The cultural skill that is being passed on has evolved, to survive and suit its new environment. 

In Knowledge, the ancestor skull wears the artist’s university graduation garland, gifted by family. Sagapolutele speaks not only to the inherent value of learning, both traditional and modern, but to a broader Pacific context of lost knowledge – as the older generation become ancestors themselves, the garland (like the ancestor) becomes brittle with age and the knowledge they safeguard is not necessarily passed on to the next generation.

In Change, the artist confronts the unknown future with a powerful message of maternal love. The tone of the image is lighter and a blue lavalava belonging to the artists mother encircles the ancestor skull. Hawaiian academic Dr Manulani Aluli Meyer described the colour blue, (lanumoana in Samoan), the colour of the ocean, as the colour of aloha, alofa, love. Hope for the future has come from re-connecting with heart and heritage, recognizing the alofa, love of culture, family and community. The artists writes ‘The future and the return to love, colours my vision and with the presence of my mothers’ lavalava, the alofa of my parents’ circles and embraces me’.