Tracey Williams’ work appropriates everyday events, things or ideas and represents them in ways that asks the viewer to consider how their own sense of reality is constructed. Her considered approach to layered contexts and hidden meanings allows the often overlooked, underlying narratives to unfold. In this multi-media exhibition, Williams explores the idea that cultural artefacts are often associated with fixed identities and meanings, but can be used in a manner that challenges our preconceptions.
Williams has constructed a custom-made ship to symbolise the cultural connections of Tauranga’s waterfront – as one of the first settlements of both Maori and European, as a link to trade, access to landfall and retreat during times of war, and as a port. She has then introduced various elements to critique these narratives, such as cladding the ship in textiles and women’s craftwork to symbolise culture-defining histories being recorded exclusively through male voices and deeds.
Williams grew up in Te Puke, Rangiuru and Tauranga, attending Tauranga Girls’ College. She went on to study art in London and New Zealand, gaining an MFA with honours from The University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts. She now works as an artist in Auckland, and teaches at Elam.