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Gallery listing: new work by Niki Hastings-McFall


Gallery listing: new work by Niki Hastings-McFall

“It’ll be all white”

New work by Niki Hastings-McFall at the Bartley Nees Gallery September 17 ­ October 11, 2003 Level 2, 147 Cuba St Wellington

Niki Hastings-McFall¹s new solo exhibition at Bartley Nees Gallery brings together two strands of work - her lei-lightboxes and her road sign vinyl modular panels - in a stunning all white show that joins the act of looking at art with the meditative process.

The lei-lightboxes originated from the artist¹s study of the impact of colonial missionaries on the oral traditions and material culture of the Pacific. Deconstructed artificial lei mounted in lightboxes reference the so-called Œcoming of the light¹ brought by the missionaries who also attempted to prohibit women¹s seemingly seductive use of flowers as adornment. The new works, employing four ancient elemental symbols - the centre, circle, square and cross, have evolved into meditational works, which the artist says "contemplate a universal spirituality that overrides the world¹s ongoing history of religious warfare".

The Œspace block¹ works, made of road-sign vinyl on powder coated aluminium panels, continue her investigation of systems of navigation, knowledge and spirituality with the repetitive nature of the pattern operating like the mantra used in the process of meditation. In recent visits to Samoa Niki researched ancient Samoan star mounds, also known as pigeon mounds. Although the function of these sites is still being debated, they were clearly of sociological and ceremonial importance and Niki makes a connection between these sites and the role of the church in present day Samoa.

The new space block works are inspired by the structure of the star mounds. Niki found their construction from huge boulders and rocks analogous to the ubiquitous use of the concrete breeze-blocks used in many churches in Samoa. Breeze-blocks also incorporate patterns of stars, birds (or frangipani), quatrefoils, crosses and dentate forms which also appear in siapo, carving, weaving and tatau ­ a "serendipitous link to the material culture of Samoa" according to the artist.

Niki Hastings-McFall is an artist attracting considerable attention at present. She had a sell-out show in Auckland earlier this year and her work is being included in the Pacific Now? exhibition of 15 New Zealand artists to be held in New York next February.

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