For over 30 years, Joan Gragg has recorded how Cook Islanders live, how they move, congregate, play, sing and celebrate. In earlier works she captured women on bikes with their babies tied too them, or carrying household items and/or large pieces of garden equipment. In iconic village scenes of an ‘Umukai’ (traditional feast prepared in an earth oven), there are dogs under the table, there are chickens scratching in the dirt, there is laughter and tables filled with food. Her use of colour directly reflects her tropical surround, the composition and structure of the work designed to catapult the viewer directly into the depicted scene. Joan is also known for her series of ‘Nuku’ paintings, that celebrate the unique point of view of the annual christian gospel celebrations, the pageantry of which is performed in true Cook Islands style, with both humour and reverence. All aspects of everyday life are subjects for Gragg, her central message to live the moment was clear then, it is even more pertinent now.
Joan Gragg’s new exhibition ‘Underneath the Mango Tree’ opens at Bergman Gallery, March 24, 2021.
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