Tamaki Makarau exhibition crawl

Batik by Rozana Lee, image courtesy of Te Uru

After a good start to the year, Auckland is continuing to provide the costume and textile community with reasons to hit the galleries. This weekend – 18 March – is a good one for a gallery crawl if you’re looking for a way to spend your Saturday. At Masterworks, it’s the last chance to see Kathryn Tsui’s redwhiteblue while the doors at Objectspace are opening for Octavia Cook and Georgina May Young, and the Rozana Lee exhibition over at Te Uru includes her batik work.

Closing this weekend, redwhiteblue features Kathryn Tsui’s reflections on and of the colours and plaid patterns of Hong Kong market bags in woven and beaded objects: bags, samplers, necklaces. The elegance and intricacy of her craft honours the cheap everyday bags and the domestic work they signify. Although the pictures indicate that this exhibition is beautifully presented at Masterworks, the works can still be viewed in the online catalogue: https://www.masterworksgallery.co.nz/blogs/current-exhibitions/redwhiteblue-kathryn-tsui-18th-february-18th-march-2023

Over at Objectspace, Ōtepoti Dunedin has come north, with the exhibitions (closing 14 May, so you have a bit of time) by jeweller Octavia Cook and embroiderer Georgina May Young, both now based in the south.

Cook’s distinctive work has been around a few years now. She uses modern materials to make strong, vibrant shapes, traditional and less so. This survey exhibition, Cook & company includes both her earlier work and her latest ventures: https://www.objectspace.org.nz/exhibitions/cook-company/

Georgina May Young’s work has been increasingly visible over the past five years and it’s simply lovely. Her embroidery speciality is layered, sculptural representations of plants that echo the colours and textures of gardens. Pūtoi: as we gather our branches showcases this specialisation: https://www.objectspace.org.nz/exhibitions/putoi-as-we-gather-our-branches/

Over at Te Uru, Rozana Lee’s Sekali pendatang, tetap pendatang explores her Chinese-Indonesian heritage in a number of mediums that speak to her family’s story, not least installations that use ‘fabric as a site to forge a visual language of meaning’ (Kirsty Baker). Sometimes the fabric contains its own stories connected to Lee’s family, while in her batik work she adapts the traditional techniques to use wax as a drawing medium, which remains on the fabric. The March issue of North & South includes an inspiring short feature on Lee’s work, showing her surrounded by fabric and art tools and speaking more to the practicalities of her practice. The exhibition is on until 30 July, and Lee will talk at the gallery on 25 March at 3pm.

One final mention goes to Tautai, whose exhibition of the Tui Emma Gillies and Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows tapa, The last kai, was rescheduled by Auckland’s summer storms. There’s tradition and subversion in this gender recast of the last supper and Christ on the cross. It’s not the first time these female-friendly versions of religious iconograpy have been exhibited, we can only hope it’s not the last, but meanwhile, there’s an online gallery of some excellent images from the exhibition: https://www.tautai.org/the-last-kai

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