Good grief — what is this? Two artists directly addressing the inner experience; in their art exploring grief. While it is unusual in contemporary art to see emotion foregrounded, the timing of this exhibition made exploration of the subject inevitable, despite it not having been on the agenda initially. Earlier this year Hutchinson’s mother was tragically killed in a road accident and for Tekela-Smith the month, which would have been the 21st birthday of her daughter who died in early childhood, brought sorrow to the surface.
Grief is the subject but it is, as the title indicates, good grief — grief that celebrates love and beautiful memories. It is also abstracted and situated by both artists in practices which politically, consciously embed distinctive traditional Pacific crafts in a broader global contemporary art context. Hutchison’s mother was Samoan and her father is Maori. Tekela-Smith’s ancestry is Rotuman and Scottish.
In works that lovingly speak to her mother’s life, Hutchinson continues to develop her own distinctive visual language employing her signature paper cut-outs with a new range of imagery.
For Tekela-Smith, jewellery, as an accessory to the body which carries the pain of grief, provides the exploratory vehicle. “It’s about sacred and intimate physical relationships that exists between an object whether it is worn directly on the body or is a memento that is held close to the body,” she says.
Both Hutchinson and Tekela-Smith have exhibited extensively nationally and internationally and have work held in major public and private collections. Hutchinson has also this year completed two public art commissions — one at Victoria University Wellington and one for Mesh Sculpture
Press release courtesy Bartley & Company Art.