Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Work’s Revamped Tongan Coat of Arms

AA
View Discussion
Benjamin Work's Write it on the land, Seal it on the heart, 2018, as installed on Te Tuhi's Project Wall. Photo: Sam Hartnett Benjamin Work's Write it on the land, Seal it on the heart, 2018, as installed on Te Tuhi's Project Wall. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Moving clockwise, the royal crown is replaced by a sacred figure wearing a decorative hair comb, the three swords that indicate three royal dynasties are replaced by three clubs (pōvai), Noah's dove (as a Biblical symbol of hope) is replaced a more abstract bowl-like version, and the three stars representing the three islands of Vava'u, Ha'apai and Tongatapu are replaced by designs (kupesi) taken from pōvai.

Te Tuhi's Project Wall

Pakuranga

 

Benjamin Work
Write it on the land, Seal it on the heart

 

12 August - 21 October 2018

Benjamin Work is mainly known for his public projects, murals painted on street fronts in an angular style coincidentally reminiscent of eighties artist John Lethbridge. Work tends to favour provocative eye-popping ‘Tongan’ colours like red and black, but his current exhibition on the Project Wall inside Te Tuhi is very different.

With a woven mat on the floor in front of it to encourage seated contemplation, his wall painting is based on the red, yellow and blue escutcheon part (not the crest) of the sila ‘o Tonga, the Tongan coat of arms (or Royal Standard, the monarch’s personal flag) that was designed in 1875. Work has replaced its ‘European’ heraldic motifs with his own Pasifika sensibility; indigenous symbols substituted for imperial ones. (Note that this is not about the red and white Tongan national flag.)

Four sets of emblems are involved within a wall that through colour is divided into quarters. Moving clockwise, the royal crown is replaced by a sacred figure wearing a decorative hair comb, the three swords that indicate three royal dynasties are replaced by three clubs (pōvai), Noah’s dove (as a Biblical symbol of hope) is replaced a more abstract bowl-like version, and the three stars representing the three islands of Vava’u, Ha’apai and Tongatapu are replaced by designs (kupesi) taken from pōvai.

In the centre where the four quarters converge, is a fifth motif; four triangles turning in an anti-clockwise direction like a child’s windmill, those triangles apparently representing the wings of two birds flying together, two replacement symbols for Christianity and a white star.

Overall it is a striking wall design Work has come up with. Quite dynamic and miles more interesting than the original from 1875—through the way it locks into the Te Tuhi architecture. A contemporary flag linked to the past.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Three Jemima Wyman works as presented in Iconography of Revolt, City Gallery Wellington.

Groovy ‘Revolutionary’ Chic

CITY GALLERY WELLINGTON TE WHARE TOI

Wellington

 

International group show
Iconography of Revolt


28 July - 18 November 2018

JH
Gunter Umberg, Ohne titel, 2010, pigment, dammar on board; Coen Young, Study for a Mirror, 2018, acrylic, urethane and silver nitrate on paper.

Faceless Portraits

FOX JENSEN MCCRORY

Auckland

 

Group Exhibition
Portrait without a Face


27 September - 10 November 2018

JH
Maureen Lander and collaborators, Te Whanau Ranaga o Waitakere, 2018. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Maureen Lander Exhibition

TE URU

Titirangi

 

Maureen Lander
Flat-Pack Whakapapa

 

11 August -18 November 2018

JH
Lisa Reihana, Native Portraits, 1999, as installed at Te Uru. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Māori Agency in Film Production

TE URU

Titirangi

 

Group show of video artists 
From The Shore


1 September - 4 November 2018