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Two New Exhibitions Opening At Te Tuhi On Saturday 11 May

Urban Legend, Bena Jackson’s first solo exhibition to be commissioned by a major public gallery.
Character Studies by Lolani Dalosa, commissioned for the Te Tuhi billboards by Papatūnga.

Urban Legend, by Bena Jackson

Urban Legend is Bena Jackson’s first solo exhibition in a major public gallery in Aotearoa New Zealand. Having graduated with an MFA from Toi Rauwhārangi Massey College of Creative Arts last year, as a sculptor and installation artist, this exhibition marks a turning point in her career.

Curated by Andrew Kennedy, Urban Legend comprises an installation of two long, finely-clipped Olearia paniculata box hedges, and a pile of hand-made ‘hacky sacks ’made from old bedsheets, table cloths, and scraps of discarded fabric. Placed at the entrances into Te Tuhi, the two hedges are marked with spray painted text carrying common messages that the artist has seen on local lampposts or noticeboards (LOST CAT, FREE, FLATMATE WANTED). Together with the hacky sacks, they partially disrupt the movement of people through the space. The pile of hacky sacks, moreover, is bound to experience frequent change over the course of the exhibition—diminishing slowly or quickly—parting ways from the gallery to intrude into hands, cars and streets of Te Tuhi’s visitors.

In Urban Legend, Jackson plays with references to local urban areas within Aotearoa New Zealand. Benches and planter-boxes from the early development of Pakuranga Town Centre, one of the earliest “malls” in Aotearoa New Zealand, serve as a loose stylistic reference for the hedges in this exhibition. The artist also acknowledges the “Hack Circle” in Ōtautahi Christchurch’s Cashel Mall. These mixed-use public sites, like many others, carry identities specific to their local communities, with lingering stories, urban legends and the physical buildup of marks left by people’s use.

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Urban Legend seizes an opportunity to highlight the power of community actions. Through the introduction of outside elements of the everyday into the gallery space, Jackson invites the public to challenge the built world around us. The small acts of ingenuity, resourcefulness and resistance encouraged in Urban Legend, explore how people living in a city can work together to align environments more closely with their needs and beliefs.

About Bena Jackson

Bena Jackson lives and works in Te Whānganui-a-Tara Wellington, where she makes sculptures and installations. Her practice focuses on community actions in public space and urban environments.

In 2023, she graduated with an MFA from Toi Rauwhārangi Massey College of Creative Arts as a sculptor and installation artist, and in the same year, she was the recipient of the Iris Fisher Scholarship, supported by the Lou and Iris Fisher Charitable Trust. The Iris Fisher Scholarship is a national award of $5,000 to support a postgraduate student in the final year of a visual arts/fine arts course of study.

Jackson’s most recent exhibitions include Castle Mall (2023) at RM Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland; Camera phone (2021) at play_station space, Te Whānganui-a-Tara Wellington; and Bound in secret knots (2021) with Teresa Collins at Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Te Whānganui-a-Tara Wellington.

Bena Jackson, Works in progress for Urban Legend, 2024. Image courtesy of the artist.

Character Studies, by Lolani Dalosa

Character Studies by Lolani Dalosa is a new series of work, and the first commission by Papatūnga for the Te Tuhi billboards in Pakuranga and at Parnell Station.

Delivered from O Wairoa Marae in Howick, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Papatūnga is Te Tuhi’s development programme for arts practitioners, managed by Edith Amituanai and facilitated by James Tapsell-Kururangi.

As one of the founding members of the art collective Raroboys, since 2018 Dalosa has been an advocate for young creatives in Tāmaki Makaurau. Raroboys is a collective of 10 Pasifika artists who work in a wide variety of mediums, including illustration, graphic design, photography and multimedia. Their mission is to make a career in the arts scene accessible to young people.

Dalosa’s practice extends from this experience, encompassing an ongoing development of print, mixed media and object-based installations that oscillate between analogue and digital processes.

For Character Studies, curated by James Tapsell-Kururangi, Dalosa renders two inverse sets of high-contrast blue and white silhouettes, one at each of the billboard locations (Pakuranga and Parnell Station). Each of the billboard scenes plays on one-liners: idioms like “hung out to dry”; archetypes like the “snotty nose neighbourhood kid”.

Character Studies continues Dalosa’s interest in cultural iconography, featuring recognisable characters and objects from his visual lexicon.

About Lolani Dalosa

Lolani Dalosa lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

His most recent exhibition, Someone's at The Door, was held at the Papakura Art Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, in September 2023, characterising a shift in his practise into an installative direction.

Prior to that, he exhibited at Corbans Estate Arts Centre (Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland) in Do Not Alter in 2021, and at The Nix (Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland) in Cross My Heart in 2022.

In 2018 he founded the art collective Raroboys, active in South Auckland and comprising 10 Pasifika artists. Raroboys held three major shows, two self funded (Raroboys Vol. 1, 2018, and Raroboys Vol. 2, 2019) and one funded exhibition, Raroboys and Friends, at Māngere Arts Centre in 2022.

It is all happening at Te Tuhi – Special Event on Saturday 11 May

Everyone is welcome at a special event at Te Tuhi to celebrate the opening of these two exhibitions by early-career artists on Saturday 11 May.

At the same occasion, Te Tuhi will announce the recipient of the 2024 Iris Fisher Scholarship, and Karl Chitham, Director of the Dowse Art Gallery, will be in conversation with Russ Flatt and Layne Waerea, two of the artists whose works feature in Takiwā Hou: Imagining New Spaces.

Takiwā Hou: Imagining New Spaces is an exhibition of Māori moving image works by some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most exciting contemporary artists, which is currently showing at Te Tuhi.

Everyone is welcome at Te Tuhi to celebrate with artists and curators on Saturday 11 May from 4pm for speeches and shared kai.

Saturday 11 May 2024, 4pm-6pm

Te Tuhi

21 William Roberts Road, Pakuranga

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland 2010

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