Born in Auckland in 1955, Mark Cross began making art during his mid teens. At the age of 23 he moved with his family to his wife’s village, Liku, on the island of Niue, and it was during these early years that a strong philosophic and stylistic foundation was established for his career as an artist. There was a disillusionment with the institutional oriented nature of the art scene in New Zealand and the isolation provided both the inspiration and lack of distraction needed to develop his work in an individualistic way.
Cross returned to New Zealand in 1982 in order to find a market for his work and since then, he has developed a reputation as one of the South Pacific’s leading realist artists.
Cross now divides his time between studios in Niue and New Zealand and although the work is very specific in it’s detail, reference to these countries is restricted to the use of local elements for the creation of a timeless, lateral world where his figures act out and question the foibles of humanity but never try to proffer answers.
The linear perspective of history has been replaced by a cyclical understanding of time, an understanding that the Artist has achieved by his closeness to nature while in Niue. Cross’s figures are totally integrated with the landscape and there’s never a feeling that nature is dominated by human kind. This is the basis of a complex philosophy that the Artist transfers into his images and in their ethereal, visionary way the works warn of the dire ecological imperatives that face both a small island and a planet.
Mark Cross has achieved through his work a uniqueness that avoids the trappings of regionalism, so often associated with realism, and replaces them with an acutely perceptive worldview.
During the nineties however the artist has ventured into other areas of art production with the establishment of a sculpture park in the rain forest in the east of Niue. A collaboration with his wife and several other artists, crafts people and musicians saw the creation of the Shrine to Abundance, an installation inside a shipping container that toured Australia, New Zealand and went to Rarotonga more recently. His paintings however are his main focus and are to be found in many private and corporate collections in Australasia, America and Europe.
- 2012: Works in Transit, Pierre Peeters Gallery, Auckland.
2005: Sheep Country, Real Gallery Auckland.
2004: Heta: Power and Fragility. Photographs SOCA Gallery Auckland & Whangarei Art Museum; Paintings of Central Otago. Milford Gallery.
2003: Recent Works: John Leech Gallery Auckland.
2002: Have We Offended?, Te Manawa, Museum and Art Gallery.
2002: Survey Show, Cook Islands National Museum, Rarotonga.
1998: Recent Works, Haleiwa Gallery, Hawaii.
1997: Woodcuts, John Leech Gallery, Auckland.
1996: Recent Works, Premier Gallery, Hawaii.
1995: Life Stills, John Leech Gallery, Auckland.
1994: Canterbury Society of Arts, Christchurch.
XPO Exhibitions/John Leech Gallery, Auckland.
1993: Anomalies, John Leech Gallery, Auckland.
1989: Auckland Society of Arts, Auckland. North Gallery, Whangarei; Baycourt Cultural Centre, Tauranga.
1988: Canterbury Society of Arts, Christchurch; Huanaki Cultural Centre, Niue.
1987: QEII Arts Council Funded touring exhibition, NSA Whangarei, ASA Auckland, WSA Hamilton.
1985: Molesworth Gallery Wellington.
- 2019: Auckland Art Fair, Bergman Gallery, Auckland, NZ.
2018: The Big Blue, Bergman Gallery, Rarotonga.
2018: MPA#1, Bergman Gallery, Rarotonga.
2018: Auckland Art Fair, Bergman Gallery, Auckland, NZ.
2016: Divergence, Bergman Gallery Rarotonga.
2016: Auckland Art Fair, Bergman Gallery, Auckland, NZ.
2010: Connect Gallery, Wil, Switzerland.
2010: Minima Gallery, Mykonos, Greece.
2005: Invitation Lightbox Exhibition: (Foreshore Archive) SOCA Gallery;
Invitational Screen Exhibition: (Six Days and the Pacific) SOCA.
2003: Exiles in Paradise, With Mahiriki Tangaroa, Beachcomber Contemporary Art, Rarotonga.
2002: Tulana Mahu Installation, Cook Island National Museum.
2001: Tulana Mahu Installation, Manawatu Museum and Art Gallery, NZ.
2000: Tulana Mahu Installation,Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, Australia.
1999-2000: Tulana Mahu Installation, Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Australia.
1996: Nukututaha, Art From Niue, The Lane Gallery Auckland.
1996: Landscapes, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland.
1995: Drawings; Joint exhibition with John Pule, The Lane Gallery, Auckland
1993-1994: Real Vision”; Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Chrischurch
1993: Portray Portrait, Morgan le Fay Gallery, Auckland
1992: Joint exhibition/book launch; Blue Angle Gallery Auckland
1990: NZ Realists, Charlotte H Galleries, Auckland
1989: NZ Artists; Mezzanine Gallery, Brisbane
1986: Denis Cohn Gallery, Auckland, ASA Gallery, Auckland
1984: Molesworth Gallery, Wellington
Awards and Grants
- 2014 Highly Commended in the Adam Portrait Prize, NZ Portrait Gallery
2006 Winner of the Auckland section of the traveling “Coexistence”
exhibition originated in Jerusalem
1991 Merit Award, Birkenhead Trust Art Award
1990 Winner of the Central King Country Visual Arts Trust Award
1989 Winner of the Waitakere Licensing Trust Art Award
1987 QEII Arts Council, New Artist Promotion Scheme
Winner of the Bledisloe Medal for Landscape
1985 Finalist, Team MacMillan Ford Art Award
1984 Finalist, Team MacMillan Ford Art Award
1983 Winner of the Polynesian Airlines Short Story Award
Publications (written by artist)
- 2002 Introduction to Mark Cross “Have We Offended”
2000 “The Hyper-Decentralisation and Dissolving of Art Frameworks”,
Australia Pacific History Conference Online Contribution. National Museum of Australia.
1999 “Tahiono Art Collective; The Paradox of Isolation”, Australia Art Monthly
1993 “Liku and the New Hiapo of John Pule”, Art New Zealand Magazine
1983 “Time on this Island, Tusitala Magazine
- Waitakere Licencing Trust
Gallery on the Seam, Jerusulem
- Fletcher Challenge, NZ
Skellerup Group, NZ
Reef Group, NZ
- Various collections – New Zealand, Australia, USA, Panama, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Switzerland, India, Lebanon and the Cook Islands.
- 2012: Video collaboration with Darryn Harkness (Auckland) “Float”
2010: Video collaboration with Set Fire to Flames (Montreal) “Language of Moths”
2006-7: Private sector representative on the Niue Tax Reform Steering Committee
2005-6: Activism against the clear-felling of the Niue rain forest
2002: Artist in Residence with the British Consul to the Cook Islands
2000: Email input to the Pacific History Association’s Conference, “Bursting Boundaries” at the Australian National University, Canberra
- 1999-2003: Organised, Curated and participated in the “Tulana Mahu” (Shrine to Abundance) installation in Niue and shipped to Brisbane, Sydney, Auckland, Palmerston North and the Cook Islands
1997 – Established the Hikulagi Sculpture Park with Funding from the ASPCF.
Helped construct first sculpture “Odesyk” by Mikoyan Vekula at Hikulagi;
Began construction on “Protean Habitat” an ongoing project at Hikulagi;
Established, coordinated and participated in “Hiapo Foou” a tapa cloth revival project under taken by Kolene Cross and funded by the NZ High Commission to Niue.
1996: Established the Tahiono Arts Collective, Niue Island; Opened Gallery and Cooperative Sculpture workshop