Te Ao Hurihuri

May 6 - May 28, 2011

Michael Parekowhai



Te Ao Hurihuri - sideThere's an elephant in the room. In Christchurch right now, this could be construed in many ways. But one month from Venice's Vernissage, to have Michael Parekowhai firstly release, and then attend the opening of Te Ao Hurihuri in Christchurch, is a very generous pleasure indeed.

Te Ao Hurihuri (The World Turns Slowly) is stunning and beautiful. A singular presence in the Gallery, it is large and shining in a creamy alabaster sort of way. A friend described it as part book-end, part ride-on. And in terms of scale and invitation, that seems bang on to me. For the inspiration was the humble and intimate book-end. But Michael Parekowhai is no shrinking violet, and here he transforms that which is small, domestic and a touch exotic, then quite literally turns it on its head!

Te Ao Hurihuri stands upside down, back towards us, more than three metres high. The first view combines three different tropes. Closest, in the sort of naturalistic back view made famous by Giotto, is the skin of the elephant. The middle ground comprises stylised rocks, or the stones and earth upon which the animal stands, while behind, the straight, trophy-like edges of the plinth are wonderfully classical. These mix easily across a surface uniformly smooth and polished. The feel is showtime! And the effect pure and grand.

For Te Ao Hurihuri seems less to turn, than to be grounded with real poise and great
balance. So what's with this elephant - what's he doing down there? Is the animal pushing away the floor, with a slow bulwark-like momentum for change? Or is this an inspiring act of resistance? Hard to say. But persistence there certainly is about a gesture that seems both playfully theatrical and full of mighty gravitas. Thanks Mike P!



Te Ao Hurihuri - top  Te Ao Hurihuri - back
detail   detail
Te Ao Hurihuri    Te Ao Hurihuri - scale

Te Ao Hurihuri
3600 x 2400 x 2250mm
fibreglass, aluminium, automotive paint