New Zealand artist cracks UK market
26 Jun 2008
A New Zealand artist whose work included a Maori version of the London Tube map has managed to break into the lucrative British market with an exhibition sell out.
Shona Moller, from Kapiti Coast near New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, has sold 19 out of 19 works at her June exhibition in Bloomsbury, London. Her "It’s Not All Black" show at Gallery 47 was flooded by expat New Zealanders and British art-lovers.
"There were people waiting outside for the doors to open, tapping on the glass," Moller said. Gallery 47 has also been home to works by Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and Bob Marley.
Moller’s 19 paintings sold for an average of NZ$6,100 giving her a total payout of NZ$116,000 but she says it’s not time to pack away her easel yet. The exhibition is expected to just break even after costs.
‘Tu be’ or Tube
Among the work was a giant painting of the iconic London Tube map in which Moller had changed all the English stations to Maori place names. Waterloo became Tirau, Leicester Square, Taupo, and Bond St, Taihape.
The map is geographically correct but has north on the right not the top, said Moller.
The English/Maori work was entitled ‘tu be’ and Moller says it’s a tongue-in-cheek take on colonisation. "It’s about how colonists go to new countries and disregard the culture already in existence."
She said the painting was about moving on and not dwelling in the past.
Promoting Maori awareness
Huhana Rokx, Chief Executive of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, a New Zealand organisation that promotes and fosters Maori language, says Shona Moller’s art takes Maori culture and language into an international arena that will be appreciated by people from the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and America. "It also elevates people’s awareness of Aotearoa, New Zealand, through our indigenous language and culture", he said.
Huhana said Māori language and culture offered an important point of difference for New Zealand tourism on the world stage and that international visitors had a strong interest in indigenous culture.
"Māori language distinguishes Aotearoa from the rest of the world," he said.
Moller said the London exhibition had definitely raised her profile and art-lovers who missed out on the buying frenzy have commissioned 10 further works from her.
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