Ayesha Green

Mei

Mei by Ayesha Green

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He ata o te ata, o te ata, o te ata. Ko tēnei te tauākī auau a Mei, 2016 nā te ringa peita, arā nā Ayesha Green. I ngā tau inā tata nei kua tāraihia tōna tāera ake – he tāera motuhake, he tāera rerehua, e kawe nei i te harikoa hou ki tāna toi whakaahua kiritangata. Kitea ai tōna tāera peita ake i roto i te poro-tae me te ata kua whakaparahatia i roto i te whakapakoko rauwhero mō Pania of the Reef i te Marine Parade i Ahuriri; kua hangarewatia anō ki ngā hā o te ao ora. Ko te kaupapa o tēnei peita ko Mei Robins, ehara i a Pania, ko Mei te tauira kōhine mō te pane o te whakapakoko i te tīmatanga o ngā tau 1950.

E ai ki ngā kōrero a Ngāti Kahungunu ka panaia a Pania e tōna iwi moana ki te pūkawa, ki te whakakati i tōna hokinga ki tōna whaiāipo a Karetoki, i tuawhenua. E noho tonu ana a Pania ki tua atu o te rongoteka i te pūahatanga o Ahuriri, i te taha o ngā kararehe moana. Ko te kōrero mō Pania he kōrero mō te aroha, te mokemoke, te panoni. I ngā tau 1950, ko te huringa o Mei ki te ata mō Pania, he wāhanga o te kaupapa whakapaipai i te āhua o te tāone, nāwai rā, nāwai rā, kua huri a Pania hei tirohanga mā te tāpoi, hei ata motuhake mō Ahuriri, mō te rohe. Ko tā te taitara o te toi, arā, ko Mei, he whakamaumahara i a tātou ki te whakapapa me te mauri o ngā ata. Kei te whakamura a Green i ēnei āhuatanga huhua hei whakatakoto anō i ngā kaupapa e pā ana ki te whakaahuahanga, ki te rerehua, ki te aratau.

An image, of an image, of an image, of an image. This is the echoing mantra of painter Ayesha Green’s Mei, 2016. In recent years the artist has forged her own distinctive style and aesthetic, bringing a new exuberance to the practice of portraiture. With her signature block colour and flattened image painting style the iconic bronze statue of Pania of the Reef on Napier’s Marine Parade is recast into the tones of the living. The subject of this painting is Mei Robins, not Pania, who as a young woman in the early 1950s was the model for the statue’s head.

Ngāti Kahungunu tribal narratives tell us the maiden Pania was cast by her fellow sea peoples into a reef to prevent her from returning to her lover Karetoki on land. Just beyond the breakwater of Napier harbour Pania remains underwater with the sea life. The story of Pania is one of love, loss and transformation. In the 1950s the transformation of Mei into an image of Pania was a part of the city’s beautification initiative, which over time has seen Pania become a tourist attraction and civic icon for Napier and the region. Titling the work Mei reminds us that images (and Pania) have whakapapa (genealogical connections) and mauri (life force). Green brings these various readings to the fore as a way of reconsidering questions of representation, beauty and agency.

Title
Mei
Artist/creator
Production date
2016
Medium
acrylic on board
Dimensions
1750 x 1220 mm
Credit line
on loan from the Stevenson Collection, Marlborough
Accession no
X2020/38/1
Copyright
Copying restrictions apply
Department
New Zealand Art
Display status
On display

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