The Southland Museum & Art Gallery Niho o te Taniwha, sponsored by Creative New Zealand and the Invercargill Public Art Gallery (IPAG), is presenting local Kai Tahu carver Steve Solomon in the Toi Maori Residency.
Museum operations manager Hayley Browne said it had been great to be able to collaborate on the project.
“It’s pretty much been possible thanks to Creative New Zealand – they’ve been hugely supportive of the project and the kaupapa (purpose) of it.
“And then also IPAG for the space and all the support they’ve given us as well.”
Browne said they had been working on the project long before the sudden closure of the museum in April and it was exciting to now have it under way.
“We did have to push it back while we were working out how we could still make it happen.
“Everybody’s been so flexible and supportive… it just meant we had that time to work out how we could make it to come to fruition.”
The residency initiative had arisen from discussions between museum staff and the Iwi Liaison Komiti (comprising members of the four local Kai Tahu Murihiku Runaka; Oraka Aparima, Hokonui, Awarua, Waihopai), and the artist.
During the residency, Solomon is working on a waharoa (gateway) which will become the main entrance into the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) campus on Tay St. The waharoa will depict mana whenua/tangata whenua (local people connected to the area) supporting SIT tauira (students), be used to welcome manuhiri (visitors) and new tauira during powhiri (welcome ceremony).
Solomon said he was grateful for the opportunity to take part in the residency, and the chance to connect with the community.
Browne said there would be times when Solomon would be working, and also time when visitors could engage with him.
She said there had also been time blocked out for schools to visit, which had been hugely popular.
“We’ve always found that regardless of any sort of style of art… that kids really connect with having someone to actually talk to who’s doing that work.”
Solomon said the waharoa (gateway) would be his biggest solo project to date.
“I really look forward to having it completed and getting it into a public space like that.”
He said because of the design of the waharoa, he hoped people would be able to engage with it while driving past and up close.
“Once they also come to it and arrive at it that there’s something else to experience.”
Browne encouraged people to come back throughout the period of the residency to see the waharoa’s progression.