City Gallery City Gallery

Past exhibition

Suzanne Tamaki: Native Eye

9 September–8 October 2006

Native Eye is a provocative adjunct to 2006's World of Wearable Arts. Otaki artist Suzanne Tamaki (Maniapoto, Tūhoe, and Te Arawa) makes costumes that riff on her Māori heritage. Many are made from wooden blankets—a trading commodity that, in early colonial times, carried new diseases, including influenza and tuberculosis, but are nevertheless embraced by the artist. Tamaki's costumes are displayed alongside photos—shot by Auckland photographer Greg Semu—in which they are modelled by Otaki women, including Tamaki herself, and Tamaki's son Rameka, reenacting historical Māori portraits. The photo Aotearoa: Land of the Wrong White Crowd (2005)—the show's central image—is based on Charles Goldie's iconic painting Te Aho o te Rangi Wharepu: Ngati Mahuta. Tamaki's titles—like DNA: Diluted Native Aotearoa—have a political edge, referring to the negative impact of European colonisation. Tamaki runs the fashion label Native Sista and is a founding member of Pacific Sisters fashion collective.