City Gallery City Gallery

Past exhibition

Murray Hewitt: The Secrets of Their Own Hearts

20 October–9 December 2012

Te Urewera National Park is contested territory; Ngāi Tūhoe have long protested the Crown's appropriation of their tribal land. Wellington artist Murray Hewitt follows another Pākehā artist, Colin McCahon—who also identified with this land, its spirit, and Tūhoe—into the Park. The centrepiece of Hewitt's show is a seven-channel video projection, The Downfall of Light. Desaturated, slow-motion shots of waterfalls in the Park run in reverse. McCahon’s Waterfalls are a reference point. In a single-channel video, Smoke Rises around the Silent Sea, Hewitt performs a solitary ritual on the edge of Lake Waikaremoana, transplanting a potted plant, a young karaka tree. Its pot resembles those in Shane Cotton paintings, and is a nod to the warrior-prophet Te Kooti, who had strong Tūhoe connections. When Hewitt raises his right arm before the waters, perhaps it refers to Te Kooti's upraised-hand prayer (honouring god). Hewitt wears a motorcycle helmet, recalling those worn by 1981 Springbok Tour protestors. The video’s title plays on the words of Tūtakangahau, a Tūhoe chief. The pot and the helmet are displayed in vitrines. Another Hewitt video, Recessional, plays on the monitors outside the Gallery entrance, offering a slow accumulation of views of sixty-one sites of battles between Māori and the Crown.