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Lowdown: Aotearoa Artists Stand Tall Amid Post-Voice Backlash

26 Oct 2023

A delegation of creatives show support for Indigenous Australians during Sydney showcase - plus the latest milestones, achievements, announcements and happenings in NZ's artistic community.

Tāmaki Makaurau kapa haka group Angitu ready to perform at Aotearoa NZ @ SXSW Sydney. Photo: Supplied.

At a time when culture is the most dividing topic in Australia, Aotearoa artists got to show their solidarity with our Indigenous neighbours the best way they know how.

SXSW Sydney - the first-ever of the famed South by South-West Festivals to be held outside of the states - wrapped up this week after hundreds of events, with tens of thousands in attendance. 

The backdrop of the event was the heightened tension and debate that Australia was thrown into, following the overwhelming 'no' result in the referendum over whether to enshrine an Indigenous voice in the Australian constitution.

With much of the talent who performed at the Aotearoa NZ @ SXSW Sydney activation representing te ao Māori - their presence was timely. A staunch showing of pride in our indigenous culture stood out in a moment where it was a difficult conversation for many to have across the ditch. 

Waiata reo Māori and cultural content was designed to be at the forefront of the 3-day activation of NZ music, esports and gaming media - done in partnership between Creative New Zealand, Te Māngai Pāho and the New Zealand Music Commission.

Tāmaki Makaurau-based kapa haka group Angitu were among the programme’s headline acts - as they took their stellar performance at this year’s Te Matatini festival across the Tasman.

 CNZ's Arts Practice Director – Music & Opera Hayley Dingwall told The Lowdown "Aotearoa NZ @ SXSW Sydney was a special event, unlike any other expo I have attended. It was more than a showcase, it was a cultural event and a cultural statement.

"It was a sensitive time to bring this kaupapa to Moemoea (Australia) and it was heartening to see our creative industries and government agencies come together and uniting with it.

"Everyone involved from gaming, tech, screen, music, event production and kapa haka brought their absolute A game in representing Aotearoa and that resonated very deeply. I look forward to seeing what opportunities and collaborations will evolve and how we can build upon this mahi."

Rei performing as part of Aotearoa NZ @ SXSW Sydney. Photo: Supplied.

Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes (Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa) was part of the Aotearoa delegation who took part and told The Lowdown "It was with much humility and compassion that I arrived as a guest in Gadigal country, just days after the country voted against its indigenous people. After pulling out from many of the events at SXSW because of the result, their absence was truly felt. 

"Keynote speaker Chance The Rapper didn't beat around the bush, highlighting how racist and backwards it was that the country voted No. Unfortunately and perhaps rather telling, aside from his talk, it wasn't discussed by the majority of non-indigenous participants. 

"I made a point of bringing it up with people I met, with many non-indigenous people trying to dismiss the topic and brush it off.  They seemed uncomfortable but wouldn't go as far as condemning it.

"On the final night however, a performance by native rappers such as young sensation (11-year-old) Inkabee and his father Flewnt, the relentless Barkaa and the 3hree Percent crew was a powerful show of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strength and resilience. Rapping about colonisation and its ongoing impacts they didn't hold back, pointing out that nothing has changed for them, that they will continue to fight for their sovereign rights and the result just confirmed what they already knew - that Australia is a racist country. 

"As Māori, our hearts are with the original custodians of the land."

The creative community in Australia are among those leading the way in the post-Voice discussions. Shane Howard, frontman of rock group Goanna - whose 1982 hit Solid Rock, Sacred Ground decried the dispossession of First Peoples - has returned his Order of Australia medal, in protest over the Voice referendum result.

Writing to the Australian Governor-General, Howard spoke of his "deep sadness" and noted that while he "respects the democratic result" of the Referendum, he felt that "Australians had missed an important historical moment of destiny."

He added, "At this point in history, I can’t be proud of my nation and feel honour bound to return my Order of Australia medal."

Hunt begins for Resale Royalties collection agency

After being flagged a few weeks ago here in The Lowdown, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH) has thrown open the process to find the organisation to manage visual artist resale royalties.

Applications for the collection agency - that will also distribute the royalties from the secondary art market to artists -opened on Wednesday (25 October) and Registrations of Interest close on 22 November.

MCH Deputy Chief Executive Joe Fowler states "We are looking for applications from organisations that have existing networks in the visual arts sector, as connecting with artists, art market professionals, and arts organisations is going to be key to the success of this scheme. 

"We expect to shortlist organisations that have a proven track record of these networks and have existing capabilities to manage royalties and a commitment to visual artists’ career sustainability."

All eligible applications will be assessed by a six-member panel, including two external panel members representing the visual art and art market professional sectors.

Organisations will also need to have current legal status in Aotearoa New Zealand, not operate for the purpose of profit-making, and have experience in the collection and distribution of funds from and to third parties.

Fowler explains "To help the collection agency implement the scheme and get up and running, Manatū Taonga will provide $954,000 to the agency across the first three and a half years.

"The collection agency will also be entitled to collect an administrative fee for its work. This fee will be a percentage of the royalty collected and is currently set as an initial 20%.

"Based on modelling and looking at similar overseas schemes, we expect that after three and a half years, the scheme should be self-sustaining.

"This is a really significant milestone for the Artist Resale Royalty scheme, that had its beginnings many years ago. I encourage organisations interested in applying to get in touch and see whether it’s the right fit." 

Silent takeover

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Movement Art Practice's Green Silence. Photo: Robyn Jordaan. 

There's a new dance initiative happening on the sporting fields of Christcurch's Hansen Park this Saturday night (28 October) but local residents don't need to worry about the noise.

Green Silence, a site-specific movement art performance, is Movement Art Practice's (MAP) fifth Community Choreographic Project in collaboration with contemporary dance choreographer and performer Sarah Elsworth,, composer Anita Clark and visual artist Stuart Lloyd-Harris, alongside a cast of community dancers.

Elsworth told The Lowdown "It's a complex weaving of many elements and it has been an incredible process. We are in the final stage of fusion and a mad rush to bring all the production elements together, with an insane team, who have all gone above and beyond the scope of the project. 

"It feels epic, beautiful, exciting, and as our lighting designer Stuart reminds us, the sheer size and vastness of the park is nearly an unimaginable scale (lighting wise), which, despite the challenge, I quietly smile as since when did you see a dance performance in a huge outdoor space? It's kind of been the point of fascination and choreographic intrigue for me.

"It has been a truly enabling and fun collaboration. I'm so grateful to the ten women who are the community dancers part of the work all with unique stories and connections to dance. They have brought their heart, soul, humour and dedication to the project, being so generous with their ability to respond and connect with the work." 

The feeling is mutual, according to community dancer Sheree Stott. "To have access to a highly experienced and skilled choreographer, as an untrained dancer, feels really special and invigorating. I've danced my whole life but to dance with my beautiful community and under the guidance of Sarah is so special and to bring joy and inspire others is what it's all about."

Described as a meditative nightwalk experience with a cinematic sound score, the ticketed event also has a silent disco vibe with audience members to be issued individual headphone sets.

Elsworth can't wait to see the reaction - at either Friday's open dress rehearsal or Saturday's performances.

"I’ve considered the audience's experience a lot when envisioning the work. I've been motivated primarily by my own love of getting lost and taken into my imaginative worlds through immersive sound journeys. I love the intimacy and immediacy of wearing headphones and how easily sound can alter or drop you into an atmosphere. 

"My hope for the audience is to have an experience that is gentle, present, inviting - that oscillates between witnessing distant space and then close proximity and intimacy. 

"The park is a stunning restful space to be in and feels peaceful. We have enjoyed thinking about what the park might want to say back to us humans, from its position as a space of refuge for us."

Latin Creative Collaborations

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Dr Zara Stanhope, Dr Claudio Aguayo, Joseph Michael, and Igor Botelho Bernardes. Photo: Supplied.

Knocking down barriers and opening new doors for New Zealand creatives is at the heart of a new resource that's being released.

The Latin America Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPE) is gearing up to celebrate the launch of its new Creative Collaborations website - designed to explore "the ocean of opportunity" between Aotearoa and Latin America's creative economies by highlighting the projects, people, and institutions at the forefront of our creative engagement with Latin America. 

CAPE Programme Manager Nicole Freeman explains “By showcasing the diversity and prosperity of these partnerships, Creative Collaborations aims to spark new relationships and creative initiatives.

“Aotearoa New Zealand has had a strong history of collaboration in the artistic field with Latin America, whether that be through exhibitions such as Space to Dream through to ground-breaking augmented reality work such as Joseph Michael’s The Majestic Saumama.”

To mark the launch of the new online resource, a free, catered event featuring a who’s who across New Zealand’s creative relationship with Latin America will take place at Auckland Art Gallery on 2 November. Guest speakers Dr Zara Stanhope, Dr Claudio Aguayo, Joseph Michael, and Igor Botelho Bernardes will talk about the creative connections between Aotearoa New Zealand and Latin America, and their particular experiences and collaborations.

"The collaborative synergy between New Zealand and Latin America blends the rich creative spirit of Latin America with the innovative nature of the New Zealand culture, both guided by indigenous perspectives,” says AUT’s Dr Aguayo. 

“This unique fusion not only enriches design but also paves the way for boundless possibilities, unlocking the potential for cross-cultural inspiration and a brighter, more interconnected future in the realm of critical creative design."

Incubator turns ten

Photo: ABmon Photography.

A decade is a milestone for any organisation (especially in the arts) so it's fitting that one of Tauranga's creative institutions takes time to reflect with its 10-year exhibition (19 October–5 November).

The Incubator Creative Hub - based at Tauranga's Historic Village - is celebrating with an installation of collective ephemera from every event from exhibitions, festivals, cinema screenings, and gigs to creative workshops. 

Director Simone Anderson can vouch for it - having been there on day 1 and still there on day 3,658. What started as one dusty red barn now encompasses 16 buildings including a community music venue and cinema, 5 galleries 26 resident artists’ studios, a creative learning campus, a Whaikairo Hub and a programme delivering an array of arts experiences to the Bay of Plenty community.

"I truly believed this city needed something like what the Incubator has become. It was an intuition and a calling," Anderson reflects. 

"With the community behind the idea and creating the momentum, I am so proud that the vision has succeeded making arts and culture accessible to so many people in our community.  Art breathes live and joy into our lives. We have reached so many people who may not have otherwise had the opportunity. Art is for everyone, and art is everywhere."

New direction for Dunedin event

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Mild Red on the catwalk at the iD Dunedin Fashion Show 2023. Photo: Supplied.

There will be no iD Dunedin Fashion Week for 2024 - but fear not, it's all part of the plan.

Following a return to the Dunedin Railway Station in April - the well-regarded creative event has announced a change to a biennial format, in a move designed to maximise its impact, with 4-5 November 2025 earmarked as its next iteration.

It also means the iD International Emerging Designer Awards competition - the only international emerging designer fashion competition of its kind in Australasia - will also occur every two years.

iD co-chair Margo Barton states “We are always looking at ways of improving the iD offering, and we believe that a longer lead-in will enable us to produce a quality event for our followers that is bigger and better than before. 

“An event of this scale is very hard to pull together in 12 months, so the move to being a biennial event will give us more time to plan and secure funding, as well as market and communicate all the many activities that comprise iD Dunedin Fashion Week."

Fellow co-chair Sally McMillan adds: “The feedback we have received about this decision from designers, sponsors and guests alike has been really positive, and we are confident that this will help sustain our event for the years ahead.

There will still be a range of events next year that focus on sustainability in fashion.

This year, the iD Dunedin Fashion Show featured 48 local, national and international designers showcasing their collections, with a survey estimating a total economic impact to the city of just over $10 million. 

Top of the Pots

Portage Ceramic Awards 2023 judge John Parker. Photo: Derek Ward.

The finalists for the Portage Ceramic Awards will be announced on Friday (27 October) - but the judge has already been confirmed.

Award-winning ceramic artist and Arts Laureate John Parker has gone through the entries and his selection of around 40 works will be invited to send their works to Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery in Titirangi for final selection - before the winners are named on 23 November.

John Parker, Negative Spaces Installation. Photo: John Parker.

As a Waitākere local and active member of Aotearoa’s ceramic community, Parker has a long history with the Portage Ceramic Awards. He has entered many times and was the recipient of the Portage John Green Waitakere Artist Award in 2007.

Parker adds “It is a great honour to be given the task of judge, but also a great curse reducing some 240 entries to 40 finalists.

“I have been accepted, been rejected, been awarded, set up a few exhibitions and hosted judges, so I have experienced it from many sides.”

Parker’s work has been exhibited widely in Aotearoa and internationally. Notable solo exhibitions have been held at the Dowse Art Museum, Wellington in 1981 and at Objectspace, Auckland in 2005. In 2002 City Gallery Wellington presented retrospective John Parker: Ceramics, and in 2016 Te Uru staged John Parker: Cause and Effect, surveying the artist’s 50-year career in pottery.

Whale of a tale

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Stacey Whale at the 2023 Florence Biennale. Photo: Instagram.

Failure to land funding through official channels doesn't have to be a death knell for creative dreams - as this story proves.

Jeweller Stacey Whale told The Lowdown back in June of her frustration at missing out on CNZ funding, saying the process left her " shaken, in tears, feeling lost and with the wind taken out of my sails."

But after turning to crowdfunding through a Boosted campaign, the Tasman artist sourced the $20,000 she was seeking for travel expenses, exhibition costs, accommodation, marketing material and the production of her necklace to display at the Florence Biennale.

That event has just concluded - and after leaving with precious jewels, she's come back with some bling - and acknowledgement - of her own.

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Photo: Stacey Whale/Instagram.
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Part of Stacey Whale's winning exhibition. Photo: Stacey Whale/Instagram.

Whale posted on Instagram "What a magnificent feeling, to receive the ‘Lorenzo IL Magnifico Award’ First Place Gold for Jewellery Art & Design at the Florence Biennale 2023.

"I love Italy, love Italians, love Florence, love the judges, love my new artist friends, and love so so much my family and friends and biggest fans.

"Thank you all so much for believing in me. I am so high on delight and happiness that today I’m floating, and I have a lifetime of inspiration ready to be unleashed. Each and every one of you are etched in my heart and I will forever be grateful."