Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Meet the People - 23

Another in the Series Meet the People – Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things – Sandy Adsett (Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Pahauwera), is one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary Maori artists. And as such he is adamant that Maori artists must work first and foremost for their own people. “A Maori has an obligation to the art of his/her people. It’s the people’s art. It doesn’t belong to you,” he has said. “It must identify Maori to Maori if it is going to remain relevant to statements about our tribal beliefs, values and mana (standing) in today’s and tomorrow’s world.” Born in Wairoa on the North Island’s East Coast in 1939, Sandy’s contribution to Maori art has been immense. Quite apart from his own broad art career as painter, carver, weaver, costume and stage designer (designing everything from postage stamps to full scale stage sets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet), he has been instrumental in furthering Maori Visual Arts within the New Zealand school curriculum.
Ever since he became an arts specialist for the Department of Education Advisory Service in the 1960s, helping to introduce the new ‘Maori Arts in Schools’ progamme, he has influenced generations of aspiring artists. In 1993 he was appointed a principal tutor at Tairawhiti Polytechnic in Gisborne; and in 2002 he settled in Hastings – the heart of his Kahungunu tribal roots – where he established the new School of Contemporary Maori Visual Arts, Toimairangi, Te Wananga o Aotearoa. He is a member of Te Atinga, the Committee of Contemporary Maori Visual Arts of Toi Maori Aotearoa and is on the board of Te Waka Toi, Creative New Zealand.
As an artist in his own right, Sandy has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand and in USA, Canada and Australia. His own works have been heavily inspired by traditional kowhaiwhai (rafter patterns in wharenui or meeting houses); and he has always maintained a balance between the contemporary and the traditional in the materials he has chosen to work with. This week (Oct 9, 10, 11), Sandy will be one of the participating artists in the biennial MAORI ART MARKet, which is being staged at Pataka and the Te Rauparaha Events Centre in Porirua, near Wellington. www.maoriarts.org.nz (All images courtesy of Toi Maori Aotearoa).

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