17 Sep 2015

Artists aim to make mark at Guam festival

7:52 am on 17 September 2015

Māori aim to make their artistic mark at a world famous arts festival for indigenous people.

The Festival of Pacific Arts - which happens every four years - brings together more than 2,000 artists from 27 Pacific countries.

Around 100 Māori and New Zealand-based Pasifika artists will represent Aotearoa in Guam, 22 May to 4 June, 2016.

Lisa Reihana

Māori artist Lisa Reihana in front of her work in Pursuit of Venus at Auckland Art Gallery. Photo: Creative New Zealand/Michael Hall.

Muriwai Ihakara from Creative New Zealand said it was one of the major indigenous festivals in the world, the premium festival of the Pacific rim.

"It was initially instigated to help preserve, maintin, retain arts and culture of the Pacific people including Māori... it's one of those things that is a 'must attend' for our artists."

Mr Ihakara said those selected represent a wide variety of artforms ranging from customary Māori arts through to contemporary arts practices.

He said the work presented by tāngata whenua sought to engage with whanaunga across the Pacific and highlighted the mana of Māori as the tāngata whenua of Aotearoa.

He said work by clay artist Colleen Urlich, who died last week, would also be included.

Works by the late Māori clay artist Colleen Waata-Urlich.

Works by the late Māori clay artist Colleen Waata-Urlich. Photo: Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada).

"Where do you begin with someone of the stature of Colleen? She was an absolute genius of her craft, a matriarch to a huge number of people, a huge number of artists.

"She was someone who sheltered the up-and-coming, someone who nurtured the up-and-coming and her work can be found throughout Aotearoa and throughout the world which is a testament to her stature as a gifted Māori artist.

"So having her legacy as a part of Festival 2016 is absolutely critical because it's one of those voices which is unique, it's one of those voices that speaks about the roots of us as Aotearoa and it's about connections broader than Aoteaora."