Nā Reuben Friend
Kua hinga anō he tōtara o te ao Māori. Aue te mamae e. He tohu whakamaumahara tēnei ma kōrua ngā tino rangatira o te ao Māori ko Colleen Waata Urlich kōrua ko Manos Nathan.
In te reo Māori we often refer to a person of great achievement as a lofty tree. In reaching great heights, their branches provide shelter for young saplings growing in their shadow. So it is with great sadness that we have lost two of our giant tōtara over the past fortnight. Today we pay tribute to two of the five fingers of the Kaihanga Uku, the National Māori ceramics collective, Colleen Waata Urlich and Manos Nathan.
Colleen’s passing exactly one week after the loss of Manos’ has come as a shock to many of us who have looked up to Colleen as the matriarch of Māori ceramics. The first time I meet Colleen and Manos was here at Pātaka art gallery during a ‘muddy’ wananga way back in 2002. So it seems surreal to once again be here at Pātaka, looking at their works in our gallery and seeing them in a different light. Pātaka Art + Museum toured the major Uku Rere survey exhibition around Aotearoa New Zealand over the past two years. The works have just returned back to the gallery and will be returning back up north in the coming weeks. I have always viewed your works as taonga, but now that you are both gone, it feels that part of you remains in your mahi – your skill, care, patience and style is imbued in your work. E kare ma, your legacy will live on through the taonga you left behind and the people that you inspired during your time upon te mata o te whenua.
Nō reira, kōrua, me haere tahi ai kōrua ki tērā whakaaturanga-nui kei runga i ngā rangitūhāhā. Kei reira e whakakatakata tahi ai. Ma te atua e manaaki, e tiaki. Haere, haere, haere atu ra.
Pataka was enveloped in a softly defused grey light this morning. The surrounding air felt heavy with moisture and the Porirua basin seemed eerily quiet as translucent veils of silent rain fell upon the lagoon.
Before the museum opened today we received the sad news that Manos Nathan, a leading Maori ceramic artist, one of the founding pillars of the Nga Kaihanga Uku collective and a generous teacher and mentor to many, had passed away.
The melancholy atmosphere outside perfectly reflected the inner feelings of the Pataka whanau as we remembered our personal experiences of Manos and pay tribute to his achievements as an extraordinary artist and cultural leader.
Compared with many of my colleagues, I only knew Manos for a short time. We met shortly after I joined the Pataka team in late 2012 when I was grappling with my first curatorial project; a 27 year survey exhibition of pivotal works by the Nga Kaihanga Uku ceramic collective. At that stage I knew very little about the contemporary Maori ceramic movement and hadn’t even heard of Nga Kaihanga Uku so felt totally out of my depth and unsure of where to start. It was my good fortune that the first artist of the collective I met and began to talk with was Manos Nathan.
Manos was extremely generous with his vast knowledge of contemporary Maori art and the origins and ethos of Nga Kaihanga Uku from the outset. With his patient guidance, I began a richly rewarding curatorial journey into contemporary Maori ceramic art that resulted in the Uku Rere exhibition. Uku Rere opened at Pataka in July 2013 and has recently returned to us after two years of touring institutional venues throughout New Zealand.
It doesn’t seem entirely coincidental that yesterday afternoon I was in our temporary art store securing some recently collected works at the time Manos passed away. It was just after 4pm as I turned to leave the room that I came face to face with the otherworldly seated female terracotta figure from his Whakapakoko series. I had always found her rather intimidating but yesterday afternoon she seems especially so as she forcibly held by gaze.
The many wonderful works Manos has left behind will ensure his extraordinary legacy continues to enrich the cultural life of our nation for generations to come. For those who were fortunate enough to know Manos personally we grieve with you and send our deepest sympathy.
Contemporary Art Curator
The Path to Pātaka – PART 1
“Get a van, son.”
“Get a van.
Fill it with cleaning supplies.
Then you can be your own boss.”
These sage words
spoken to me as a passive-aggressive offering of hope
concealing my mother’s dismay
in hearing my decision…
…to go to art school…
These words have reverberated in my thoughts
ever since that first day
at the turn of the millennium
when I packed my bags
and headed off on my adventure…
…into the world of art…
This “back-up plan”
as it were
for when art inevitably failed me
or I failed at it
has never come to fruition.
As it is
fifteen years later
I now find need for a van and cleaning supplies
Not as a career path
but rather to run around and clean up…
…after my four messy, art-loving children…
Director, Pataka Art + Museum
DUST OFF THOSE PAINT BRUSHES, THE FRIENDS OF PATAKA ARTS AWARD IS BACK!
Entry forms are available from Pataka’s front desk or download the pdf below, may the creative force be with you:
2015 Arts Award conditions and entry form