• Black Bird: Lonnie Hutchinson 1997-2013: A Survey

    “I am interested in spaces that might be spaces or times of transformation spiritually,” says artist Lonnie Hutchinson, whose work is brought together in the Gus Fisher exhibition, Black Bird (7 March – 2 May 2015). This substantial exhibition features a selection of works produced by Hutchinson during the last 20 years, is supported by Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust, and is one of the highlights of  the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival (4-22 March).


    A major publication designed by Neil Pardington and featuring texts by Linda Tyler, Karl Chitham and Ioana Gordon-Smith, and Stephanie Oberg will be produced to accompany the exhibition.


    Hutchinson’s calm demeanour belies the heft and sophistication of the work she has been producing for the last 20 years. An impressive range is surveyed in the Black Bird exhibition, including Waiting for Le M’aoma’o – one of the black paper cut-out works for which she has become famous, and video works including She Could Taste Salt on her Lips and Fish Eyes. The exhibition also includes Pigeon Tarot, a series of 22 drawings.


    “I mostly make objects that are probably more feminine than masculine,” she says. “My work has a lot of feminist aspects, my concepts do revolve around the female, the woman, her role, how the female may be perceived in different contexts.” This aesthetic is accompanied by the artist’s sense of her being, and having the perspective of, an outsider, without privilege. “I always see myself as the other female, the other brown, the other lesbian.”


    She is interested in pre-Christian indigenous religion and cultural knowledge, in particular how it is widely acknowledged in Maori culture [her father is Ngai Tahu] but camouflaged in contemporary Samoan culture [her mother is Samoan] due to the colonial carpet of Christianity having been rolled over it.


    “No one in Samoa talks openly about pre-Christian spirituality and religion. Even the keepers of that sacred information are very wary of who they talk to. But there are coded references in proverbs and for the talking chief. We have a spiritual relationship with God, the gods, the earth, a rock, a stone.”


    Red is a recurring hue in Hutchinson’s work, that’s because of its association with blood and blood lines. But black is the predominant colour. “Black is where Te Korekore (the nothingness) and Te Pō (the night) reside – not voids of fear or forsakenness, simply the spaces where notions arise and transition from one form into another. That’s where the magic happens; it’s a space of infinite possibilities.”


    Hutchinson says being an artist is mostly about hard work, with dividends coming later. “It can be really exciting as the idea takes form.”


    Lonnie Hutchinson


    7 March – 2 May


    Gus Fisher Gallery, 74 Shortland Street, Auckland

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