With a background in industrial design, Turumeke Harrington’s (Ngāi Tahu) interests in whakapapa, space, colour and material see her creating installations at the intersection of art and design. Commissioned by Tauranga ArtGallery, the exhibition Massive Props
contains two core elements. The first is (Pink mist Māmā/Papa), a suite of three metre long rugs that reference the Earth Mother Papatūānuku, architectural columns and bones. Harrington describes Pink mist as a ‘big, strong, māmā skeleton’ whose jarring pink and green colouration exploits distinctions between the ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’. Traditionally characterised as a ‘soft’ and feminine colour, for Harrington pink is also visceral; associated with birth and ‘pink mist’, a euphemism for dramatic sprays of blood in film.
Within Massive Props we, the audience, are also being watched. Kā tūtai (which loosely translates as the scouts or spies) is a suite of steel and acrylic wall-based sculptures that function as eyes within the space. Another binary is at play here. Harrington makes a distinction between the comfort and security of the maternal gaze versus themenace of
surveillance (particularly in relation to ‘passive surveillance’ or ‘eyes on the street’ increasingly found in urban design).Paradoxically, being watched can feel inherently safe or unsafe, and likewise Massive Props traverses moments ofboth comfort and discomfort. Harrington invites us to luxuriate on the rugs for a moment and consider our support structures.