A new exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū by a local artist gives a glimpse into what five New Zealand families with a wide range of cultural and ancestral connections feel about place and belonging in Aotearoa.
Artist Olivia Webb, whose own Christchurch-based family is part of the exhibit, worked with five families – who have ties to Kiribati, Zambia, Samoa, the Philippines, England and the Netherlands – to create their own songs about living in Aotearoa for her exhibition named Anthems of Belonging.
In life-sized video projections, each family is seen performing their anthem from their own lounge room, emphasising both the personal and political qualities of using one’s voice. While they are not professional singers, music is an important part of each family’s culture.
Gallery Lead Curator Felicity Milburn says the exhibition illustrates the diversity of contemporary New Zealand culture, and shows how varied cultural backgrounds and traditions can shape the experience of living and belonging here.
“The face of Aotearoa is constantly changing – for the benefit of us all, I think – and this exhibition is a perfect illustration of that.”
Olivia says the anthems reflect the personal values, concerns and aspirations of all involved.
“These songs have different vocal qualities, musical structures and lyrics, often including ideas that do not feature in New Zealand’s current national anthem ‘God Defend New Zealand’ – a musical setting of a poem written by Irish-born Thomas Bracken in the 1870s.”
Webb is currently working to develop two new anthems with Christchurch families, and these will be added to the exhibition as they are completed.
Anthems of Belonging is on at the Christchurch Art Gallery from March 13 until July 11, and contains several public programmes including a floor talk and multiple workshops. Find out more at www.christchurchartgallery.org.nz.