Ayesha Green presents Folk Nationalism at Tauranga Art Gallery

The exhibition runs through 22 January 2023 and explores the possibility of restorative storytelling through revisiting mythologies of nationhood.

What are the stories we tell from our collective past? And how do they inform the lives we live in Aotearoa New Zealand today? These are questions posed by Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland-based painter Ayesha Green (Ngāti Kuhungunu, Kāi Tahu) in her exhibition Folk Nationalism at Tauranga Art Gallery (27 August 2022–22 January 2023).

Green has become a familiar figure. In 2020 she was included in Toi Tū Toi Ora, the survey of contemporary Māori art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, and had a solo show at Dunedin Public Art Gallery. In 2021 she produced a public sculpture for the Octagon in Dunedin, a space previously dominated by colonial-era forms. Green described her sculpture as a ‘gateway connecting us with our deep ancestral ecologies’.

Green’s Tauranga exhibition is an outcome of winning the biennial Rydal Art Prize, established in 2019 to acknowledge an artist who has made a substantial contribution to contemporary painting in this country. Green is the second recipient, receiving $25,000 and a show at the Gallery.

As her subjects, Green often takes historical events, figures, and images, reclaiming and recontextualising them to question where power lies and where Māori can gain. Her stylised, figurative paintings represent a bold approach to issues concerning her Māori whakapapa—passed down through women over four generations. In Folk Nationalism, she invites us to revisit mythologies of nationhood and explore the possibility of restorative storytelling.

Centre stage is her reworking of Marcus King’s 1938 painting The Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, February 6th, 1840, which itself imagines a defining moment in our history from ninety-nine years on. What does King’s ‘original’ tell us about desire, authorship, and the dream of nationhood?

In an essay accompanying the exhibition, Elle Loui August says: “Green’s re-performance of King’s work refuses misremembering, colonial amnesia and sentimentality. Rather it asks that we continue to bring these histories and artefacts to bear on the present.”

In other paintings, Green teases out conflicting histories that continue to inform our national identity. By inserting herself into the Anglo-American painter Benjamin West’s portrait of Joseph Banks, she disrupts the original, and the intellectual authority and scientific cause it lays claim to. In The Prince’s New Toy, the iconic buzzy bee stands as a cipher for sovereignty, while the pastoral scene Two Māori Boys in an English Field explores the nature of displacement and belonging.

Recent News

A mural, commissioned for the Wairoa Centennial Library in 1962 and painted by E. Mervyn Taylor, is set to be auctioned this week, but it is unlikely that proceeds will go to the flood-ravaged community. Dr Bronwyn Holloway-Smith reports.
The twelve-week festival of free-to-view public art will run from 25 November 2023 to 17 February 2024.
The one-night screening will include seven short works from the 1980s by the pioneering queer filmmaker.
After two-years of development, Toi MAHARA looks ahead to its new programme in Waikanae’s growing cultural precinct.
The exhibition will bring together works from some of Aotearoa's leading female modernists.
Now in its 27th year, NZ Sculpture OnShore features more than 120 artworks by emerging and established artists from all over Aotearoa New Zealand.


OF THE TIME will run from 19-29 October at Carriageworks in Sydney, featuring new work by Rosanna Raymond, Brooke Stamp and Latai Taumoepeau.
This year's festival convenes around the idea of 'The Real Thing' and will feature work by Yvonne Todd and Telly Tuita.
For its thirty-second iteration, Primavera is back with work from six of Australia's most promising young artists.
The young choreographer explores collective memory and inherited violence in this performance made in collaboration with his family.
Toro Atua takes inspiration from the rock paintings of Te Waipounamu and is scheduled for completion in April 2024.
Juliet Carpenter and Julian Dashper will present new works at the exhibition, which responds to the work of Mutlu Çerkez.
Lander revives her exhibition from Te Papa's opening in 1998 for a new presentation in Ōtautahi Christchuch.
Gow Langsford, Fox Jensen McCrory Gallery, Laree Payne Gallery, Paulnache, Robert Heald, Starkwhite, Two Rooms are among more than 90 exhibitors at the Sydney art fair opening 7 September.


Enjoy 15% Off

Your First Order