Guo Pei The Da Jing (Magnificent Gold). 2006© Guo Pei. Installation view in Threads of Time, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2023. Photo by David St George.
What has been a bumper year for fashion and textiles is finishing on a high in the North Island, with a few big draws, especially in Auckland and Wellington. For fashion, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is excited to be hosting the Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, Fantasy 郭培：时装之幻梦 exhibition, which opened at the beginning of December and will run until 5 May 2024. This celebration of an extraordinary designer includes more than 60 pieces by the subject of New Zealand film-maker Pietra Brett-Kelly’s documentary Yellow is Forbidden. And yes, speaking of yellow, Rihanna’s unforgettable 2015 Met gala gown, which brought Guo Pei to a wider audience, features in the exhibition.
There is a strong fashion link to another Auckland Art Galley exhibition as well, Threads of Time: Travel, Trade & Textiles, a longterm (until 2026) hang themed to ‘explore how fabrics can offer insight into the interwoven threads of fashion, art and identity in the politics and cultures of the past’. It’s divided into five sub-themes, and there’s more information on the exhibition website.
The other side of textiles is marked at Auckland Museum, where Te Rā is now enjoying the second leg of its return to Aotearoa, after several months in Christchurch. As in the south, the sail is displayed in a way that offers a good view of the techniques used in creating this useful and beautiful traditional artefact.
Heading further south, another big recent opening was the completed Wharenui Harikoa at the Waikato Museum (until March 2024). Lissy Robinson-Cole (Ngaati Hine, Ngaati Kahu) and Rudi Robinson-Cole (Ngaruahine, Te Arawa, Ngaati Paaoa, Waikato ki Tai) have been working on this neon crochet house of joy for several years now, and have toured the work in progress over recent months.
Another lifesize yarn exhibition has made its way north from its southern base, with the opening at the Dowse of Good Bones, Dunedin artist Michele Beevors’s knitted skeletal animals.
Back in Wellington, City Gallery’s got Eerie Pageantry, which ‘calls forth the folk-horror-infused art of Julia Robinson and Don Driver’. Textiles and sculpture which in part ‘began as a love letter to The Wicker Man‘ – if you can’t get there, check out the online gallery and the notes and feel your eyes boggle.