Kete a tribute to whanau in new Hemi Macgregor exhibition



Photo: Maori contemporary artist Hemi Macgregor (right) with Mahara Gallery Director, Janet Bayly (left) and the Kete of Hemi Macgregor’s late mother, Marata.


Maori contemporary artist Hemi Macgregor’s inclusion of a kete made by his late mother, Marata, in his exhibition of new works at Mahara Gallery, is both a tribute and a recognition of the importance in his work of whanau and friends.


The exhibition, Toitu Te Whenua, Toitu Te Moana, Toitu Te Tangata, is a new body of work developed over the past five years which had its origins in him observing the changing of the seasons.


Hemi Macgregor’s paintings aim to inspire viewers to reflect on our interconnectedness with the sky, the earth, the oceans and rivers, and to begin to re-establish our relationship with the atua (Maori spiritual ancestors) and their offspring.


The Kete he chose from a whole wall of Marata Macgregor’s work is special to him in that it contains the Macgregor tartan from his father’s heritage.


Hemi Macgregor is based on the Kāpiti Coast and teaches at Massey University College of Fine Arts Wellington. His work is so highly regarded he was invited to exhibit in Toi Tū Toi Ora, the largest ever exhibition staged by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

That exhibition, which is currently showing in Auckland, offers insights into the development of contemporary Māori art informed by a Māori world view.

Gallery Director Janet Bayly says the patiki pattern (a diamond form) is a central motif to this new body of work.


It reflects the shape of the flounder and is found in many Maori artforms. It suggests the abundance and prosperity of food gathering and storage around this time of the year, and links also to the celestial calendar and the environment.


“For the majority of the work I have utilised geometric patterns reflective of aspects of tukutuku but not intending to replicate the practice of it directly,” Hemi Macgregor says.


“There are references to patikitiki as it speaks of abundance, prosperity, food gathering and storage.


“It is in spring and summer months that the astrological marker patiki or patikitiki (the Coal-Sack nebula) begins rising before the sun at dawn and is the marker of the abundance of the spring and summer months.”


Janet Bayly says she is very pleased that Hemi Macgregor has chosen his local district gallery to mount this new show.


“While he has been in previous group shows this is his first solo show here,” she says. “The work has a strong presence and highlights our connections to the environment which is such a key characteristic of Kāpiti”.


Also currently showing at Mahara Gallery is an observational practice, an exhibition of works by Kāpiti artists whose work reflects their close observation of the natural world - a pleasure which became heightened for everyone during Covid lockdowns.


The exhibiting artists are Dutch-born Gerda Leenards, Frances Jill Studd, Sophie Saunders and Gallery Director, Janet Bayly.


Both exhibitions will be open until 28 April.