Tungane Broadbent & Reuben Paterson
Today, Tomorrow & Yesterday
July 4 – August 31, 2017
Opening Tuesday July 4th, 6pm. All Welcome.
Ben Plumbly, Director, Art & Object
Ben Bergman, Director, Bergman Gallery
Tungane Broadbent | Reuben Paterson, Exhibiting Artists
The exciting pairing of Tungane Broadbent and Reuben Paterson, both in the collection of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, takes centre stage in the new exhibition Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday.
The exhibition presents as a conversation between the two diverse art forms, Paterson’s Glitter paintings responding to the Tivaivai of Broadbent. Paterson litterally shines a spotlight on this important pacific practice. Tivaivai are social biographies, timeless fabrics rich in social values, family genealogy, motif, history and nation, providing fundamental social discourse – linking past and present communal narrative.
Paterson himself is no stranger to the Tivaivai artform, having worked at Auckland Art Gallery’s ‘New Gallery’ during the late 1990’s where an important exhibition of Cook Islands Tivaivai was shown. Responding to Broadbent’s work, Paterson has re-energized his celebrated botanical format with explosive colour and pattern. Reuben writes; ‘ When I began working with so much colour contained in one work again, my mind was taken back to when I was painting kowhaiwhai in colours not associated to the traditional red, black and white when I was honouring my father’s passing in these works, and our descent lines to Ngati Rangitihi, Ngai Tuhoe and Tuhorangi. Those same descent lines will always make me think of The Garden of the Seven Stones and Ngatangiia Harbour (Rarotonga) – those descent lines, and connections, can all be bought back to this one place / point of departure, because it’s all a part of the Whakapapa. Introducing so much colour again is literally influenced by Tivaivai, and the work of Tungane, and is also a way to acknowledge what the colours of kowhaiwhai meant to me at that time.’
The exhibition opening will feature a keynote address by Art & Object Director Ben Plumbly.
Fabric and Glitter
There are definite challenges to working with glitter. Artist Reuben Paterson has long since accepted that the minute shiny particles will be found everywhere in his New Zealand studio. Like the product he works with, Paterson’s career is a glittering one. From his first solo exhibition in 2001, his work has made its way from galleries and collections in New Zealand and Australia, to Rarotonga, where it has found an unlikely home beside tivaivai, the exquisitely stitched quilting that is uniquely Cook Islands.
The connection between thousands of pieces of glitter and thousands of delicate stitches is not an obvious one – a truly traditional art form and one that is blatantly contemporary. It is there though, like the close relationship between the two countries themselves, recognised by Ben Bergman, owner of Bergman Gallery, Rarotonga.“They are radically different mediums,” says Bergman. “It’s the conceptual elements that bind them – the themes they articulate are similar.”
The idea of a pairing of Pacific artists, a pairing of culture and forms, had been discussed by Bergman many times with colleague, John McCormack, Director of STARKWHITE Gallery in Auckland. It was a given that tivaivai would be one of these forms.
Bergman has a long relationship with Broadbent, as comes with living in a small Pacific nation. Born in Australia in 1970, Bergman moved to Rarotonga in 1976, where Broadbent was one of his primary school teachers. Her stunning tivaivai has featured in his gallery many times, as well as in exhibitions across the globe.
As a young girl on her home island of Mangaia, Broadbent always saw women making tivaivai. It was what they did – stitching tivaivai for special occasions and for the tutaka, home and property inspections. “I just knew how to make tivaivai from watching,” says Broadbent, who at the age of 77 years has been cutting and stitching tivaivai, and exhibiting her work, for close to 50 years.
Bergman had been convinced by the vitality of Paterson’s work when he first saw it in Auckland in 2003, and during Paterson’s time as Artist in Residence at his gallery in 2010. And both Broadbent and Paterson are well established artists in their own right, each included as part of the 6th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane in 2009/10.
Skype brought the two artists together. Paterson was immediately taken by the colours in the purple and green dress Broadbent was wearing. He asked her to make a tivaivai in these same colours, and it became one of four that she included in their shared exhibition ‘Today, Tomorrow & Yesterday’ held at Bergman Gallery in 2017.
Paterson’s extravagant glittering botanical works were a response to Broadbent’s use of colour and the botanics of the islands, taking him back to when he painted kowhaiwhai in non-traditional colours in 2010 after his father’s death, and his descent lines to Ngati Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe and Tūhourangi. “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,” says Paterson.
For Bergman, the ultimate aim has always been to place Pacific art in an international context – to be recognised as contemporary art form in its own right. The pairing of Paterson and Broadbent is the first of many, followed closely by an exhibition of Benjamin Work and Andy Leleisi’uao and a return to the Auckland Art Fair in 2018 to showcase Andy Leleisi’uao alongside Sylvia Marsters.
“As a region the South Pacific has so much in common – and so much to offer.” Rachel Smith.