Joan Gragg | Mahiriki Tangaroa | Sylvia Marsters | Kay George | Ian George | Ewan Smith | David Teata | Tungane Broadbent | Pauline Kaimarama | Nanave Taime | Brent Holley | Grace Henry | Miriama Arnold | Tabatha Forbes | Raniera Ellison | Shane Andrew | Michel Tuffery | Benjamin Work | Sue Carruthers – Brown | Robert Brown
Paintings, Photography, Sculpture, Tivaivai
November 30 – December 31
In April 2002, the group exhibition, Tatou opened at Beachcomber Galleries, featuring the works of Mahiriki Tangaroa, Kay George, Ian George, Eruera ‘Ted’ Nia, Richard Shortland Cooper, Tim Buchanan and Judith Kunzle. At that time, I stated, ‘Tatou means us, or more directly, the confidence within us.” I was referring to the re-birth of Cook Islands contemporary art exhibition on Rarotonga, following in the footsteps of a series of artist led projects through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. This included Rick Welland, Edwin Shorter, Len Staples, Joan Rolls, Ian & Kay George, Rennie Peyroux, Henry Tavioni, Judith Kunzle, Mike Tavioni, Claire Higham, Nga Teariki, Tim Buchanan, Jillian Sobieska and many others.
The past 18 years have been a massive art adventure, that is story unto itself. Perhaps one day it will be written. But, today, in part, we gather to celebrate and acknowledge what I feel was an important exhibition, for the time it was created and the premise that it acknowledged. Tatou, us – it was a moment of unity and common cause, that if we stood together in a new age of regional Pacific art development; we could achieve a higher level of art production and exhibition.
And we have.
Now, in a time of global pandemic, it is that strength, that spirit of Tatou that has arisen once again. It was announced as Cook Islands Government policy right from the outset of the COVID crisis nine months ago, ‘We are all in this together’. It was a defiant and empathetic message of leadership – that no one would be left behind, a statement of assurance that has resonated through all pillars of the Cook Islands community. It was a message of unity, to stand together.
And we have.
Unity, coming together for common cause, it stirred a very strong memory of the original Tatou exhibition, when the community at large came together to support an ambitious domestic art project that has now delivered far beyond its borders. It was an amazing experience.
So, in that spirit, I have asked 20 artists across a broad spectrum of art practice, to participate in a new exhibition to celebrate strength in the face of adversity and to pay tribute to the enduring promise – that we really are all in this together.