For this project the Tauranga Art Gallery has invited artist Darcell Apelu to curate a show in response to the 125th Anniversary of the New Zealand Suffrage movement. Featuring works by Louisa Afoa, Li-Ming Hu and Julia Holden, the exhibition explores the current cultural climate for contemporary women and some of the issues they face.
The title, Say It, Just Say It, is like a mantra or chant that joins with the many voices of women around the world who had to, and still have to, fight to have their points of view heard. It is an unapologetic contribution to the Suffrage plight explored through painting, photography, moving image and installation.
Exhibition curator Darcell Apelu
The exhibition features a selection of artworks including Holden’s symbol of the white ‘Kate Shepard’ Camellia which represents the flowers that were given to those in the house of representatives who had voted in favour of giving women the right to vote, while red camellias were presented to those that voted against the act. This work raises the question, does this flower still have the power to represent women’s issues now?
Hu’s work raises concerns of equality within creative spaces and wider society. It is demonstrated through the use of camp and parody, incorporating pop music and theatrics to illustrate some of the biases that define structures of power found within the contemporary art world.
Li Ming, Putting It Together. Photo: Mike Beehre.
The ‘other’ body as represented in Afoa’s self-portrait also makes a strong statement. She claims a space within the exhibition reflecting the role of body image as protagonist and attempting to change the way women’s bodies are viewed outside of the norm.
Say It, Just Say It reflects on the significance of the passing of the Electoral Act in 1893 that gave women in Aotearoa the right to vote, the first country in the world to do this. It also recognises the complex and diverse issues and concerns affecting women in Aotearoa today.