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Hundreds and Thousands by Mihi Murray

Hundreds and Thousands by Mihi Murray

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Hundreds and Thousands by Mihi Murray
Thistle Hall, Fringe 08
February 25th – March 1st, 2008

A love of art and a lack of funds prompted Wellington-based artist Mihi Murray (Nga Puhi, Ngati Awa) to study art herself just so that she could have original art on her own walls. Seven years after embarking on an Art and Creativity course at The Learning Connexion she finds her walls are completely covered – as well as her floors, cupboards, and garage. There is no more room on the walls so she has to rotate artworks throughout the year so that all her favourite pieces can get airplay. To demonstrate the breadth of her creative output Mihi presents a series of painted and sewn works at Thistle Hall as part of Fringe Festival 2008.

The title of the exhibition ‘Hundreds and Thousands’, refers to the number of ‘marks’ or ‘objects’ used to make up each work. One mark or object on it’s own is a single entity with it’s own meaning, but when that same mark or object is multiplied, or massed, the resultant operation takes on a whole new meaning. Her works result in a form and content split and they hover between the ambiguous and the familiar. They are not designed to represent any single cultural or social ‘idea’ and it is up to the viewer to negotiate each piece as per their own life experiences. For example, painted shapes could be perceived as circles by some, holes by others, and some people may see balls or even fabric material. And the canvas and thread works may speak to some of a social history and to others of a cultural history. It is not the intention of the artist to instruct the viewer exactly how to respond, she just sets out to engage in a dialogue with her materials and thereby facilitating a potential interaction between viewer and the materiality of her art.

When she first started studying art seven years ago Mihi unexpectedly found that some people mistakenly assumed that her work was going to be ‘Maori’. She immediately resisted that misnomer seeing no connection whatsoever between traditional Maori designs and practises, and the semi-abstract pieces she was creating at the time:

“Identifying myself through Maori art did not come naturally to me as my background is that of an Anglo-Saxon Christian regime which suppressed the inherent creative nature of my tupuna. My influences are mainly modern: Abstraction, minimalism, cubism, conceptual….”

However, an 18-month stay on whenua tupuna (back home) in Hokianga and constant examination of aspects of her heritage has seen some of these aspects unconsciously creep into her work. Yet Mihi defies any traditional definition of what makes Maori art.

“My work does not look traditionally ‘Maori’, that’s not my intention, but I’m Maori, so of course that simple fact is going to inform my work. In some ways, there is more of a similarity between some of my work and Australian aboriginal art. But even though it’s there, the aboriginal ‘look’ is not what I aim for. I’m more interested in HOW I create my pieces.

Mihi Murray’s artmaking practises engage all types of media and methodologies. Of particular interest are the materials she uses, the properties of those materials and the processes she uses in order to highlight those properties. In some pieces she takes on the conventions of painting and explores the instability of wet paint. Other pieces are formed around the gravitational fall of thread.

Based in Wellington Mihi has, for the last 21 years, been an active member of Wellington’s vibrant artistic community – actor, radio producer and presenter, nightclub DJ, promoter, filmmaker, writer, artist and curator.

Examples of her work can be found on the Thistle Hall website:

Hundreds and Thousands
By Mihi Murray
Thistle Hall, Cnr Cuba and Arthur Sts
February 25th – March 1st
Opening: Mon Feb 25, 5pm


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