City Gallery


Ayesha Green: Folk Nationalism

On now until Sun 15 October


Folk Nationalism interrogates the ways that power is upheld by images. Working across painting, drawing and sculpture, Ayesha Green (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Kāi Tahu) examines histories of Māori and Pākehā representation, often questioning the particular ‘truths’ or myths they perpetuate. Her practice co-opts culturally loaded images from the history of Aotearoa—by the likes of Benjamin West, Isaac Coates, Marcus King and Gordon Walters—and breaks them down to their pictorial elements, drawing attention to the systems of power that bestow them with value. Through subtle acts of mirroring and repositioning, she upends the supposed stability of images and their claims to a collective identity.

Glimmers from Green’s own story are interspersed throughout the exhibition, taking form through self-portraiture and personal histories. They become a grounding touchstone, positioning herself within these narratives as a contemporary Māori woman and as a descendant of these same cross-cultural relationships.

Folk Nationalism was first presented at Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga in 2022, commissioned by the Rydal Art Prize. The original exhibition has been expanded to include older work to track how the ideas behind Folk Nationalism have been established, play out, and continue to inform Green’s practice.

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