Shane Cotton

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Media Release: July, 2003. 

Shane Cotton is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant contemporary painters; the large body of work that he has produced over the last fifteen years has helped redefine the nature of contemporary Maori artistic practice. From 13 July – 19 October 2003, City Gallery Wellington, with Principal Sponsor Telecom New Zealand, will present what promises to be one of the year’s most eagerly anticipated and talked about exhibitions – the first major survey exhibition of Shane Cotton’s work.

Shane Cotton, curated by Lara Strongman, Senior Curator at City Gallery, will be presented in three of City Gallery’s four exhibition spaces and spans the period 1993 to 2003. The exhibition will include images that have been considered by many critics to be among the most significant paintings to be produced in New Zealand over the last decade. It will also include several works not previously publicly exhibited, as well a substantial body of new work.

Shane Cotton (Ngati Rangi, Ngati Hine, Te Uri Taniwha) is one of a small group of prominent artists of dual Maori and Pakeha descent. Trained within a European art school tradition, Cotton’s work explores aspects of his bi-cultural heritage – and by extension, examines the nature of New Zealand cultural identity.

Cotton’s work has been included in more than sixty exhibitions in New Zealand and internationally, and he has held more than twenty solo exhibitions of his work in both New Zealand and Australia. His works are included in all major public collections in New Zealand, and in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

The first comprehensive account of Shane Cotton’s practice, the exhibition at City Gallery Wellington will trace the artistic and conceptual development of Cotton’s work from 1993 to today, including his most recent powerful dark paintings dealing with issues of land, spirit and identity.

Coinciding with the opening of Shane Cotton will be the launch of the first major publication examining the work of this prominent New Zealand artist. 2003 marks 15 years of Shane Cotton’s professional practice and represents a timely moment for such a publication. Heavily illustrated and containing essays by Lara Strongman, John Huria, Blair French and Jim Barr and Mary Barr, Shane Cotton will enable those people who cannot visit the exhibition access to Cotton’s ideas and images.

A full public events programme will run at City Gallery during the exhibition, including artist and curator floortalks, readings and panel discussions. Details of events will be announced in coming weeks. One of the highlights of the Gallery calendar for 2003, Shane Cotton also presents a significant education opportunity for both primary and secondary schools. Shane Cotton is one of the most frequently used artist models in the education sector and is studied in the new NCEA assessment. Running throughout the exhibition season the Gallery will offer an exciting and enriching education programme of tours and workshops in the on-site classroom.

City Gallery Wellington has worked with Shane Cotton on several previous occasions. Most recently works by Cotton have been included in the City Gallery’s Techno-Maori: Maori Art in the Digital Age (2001) (with Pataka Museum of Art and Culture) and Parihaka: The Art of Passive Resistance (2000), for which he was one of twelve commissioned artists. City Gallery Wellington maintains an ongoing interest in the development of Shane Cotton’s work and he is working closely with the exhibition’s curator Lara Strongman on the development of this major survey exhibition.

Principal Sponsor Telecom New Zealand Ltd.

The Shane Cotton exhibition is generously supported by Creative New Zealand and the City Gallery Wellington Foundation.

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of many public and private collections including: Auckland Art Gallery, Blythe Collection, Auckland, The Chartwell Trust, College House, Christchurch, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, The Fletcher Trust Collection, Gow Langsford Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, M. Neas and M. Brow, Aloysius and Eileen Teh, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Sweeney Vesty Collection.