Category Archives: Reviews

Audience responses…

New comments from the Fresh Gallery Otara Guest Book…

An inspired video presentation, well planned and thought-out project. Its graphic nudity and concepts confronts issues of the taboo. Well done!
Walter Lolahi-Heka
Dannemora / Sydney

What a fantastic presentation. A real live experience, beyond imagination… a world class piece. Keep up the great work Leilani. Always proud of your projects.
Anne Nicholas
Otara / Papatoetoe


Darkness and power beyond the camera

Arts writer T J McNamara has reviewed Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds for the Weekend Herald (2 April 2011)

Work of intensity and bravery gives a magical experience

Photographs can never completely convey the impact of a work of art, particularly when it is an installation. Such a work is the powerful, ritualistic installation Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds by Leilani Kake, which was part of the Auckland Arts Festival and continues at the Fresh Gallery in the Otara Town Centre. It is hard to photograph because the work is in a room shrouded in thick darkness and surrounds viewers in four sides so they are completely immersed.

Immersed is a suitable word because on each wall a figure of a naked woman floats in semi-darkness. The viewer is aware that although the women are vertical, the spread of their hair and the gentle movement of their bodies make it clear they are floating.

The forms that emerge from the water, notably face, breasts and belly, appear especially illuminated while the rest of the body dissolves into dark space. Behind each of the four figures there is a light, sometimes the moon and sometimes like the tunnel of light people report seeing when they have had a near-death experience.

The four subjects are of different ages: a young woman, two mature women and a heavily pregnant woman.

The darkened room is often shaken by thunder, with a sound track that is a poetic salutation to the night and the coming of light. The whole is a work of great intensity and, it should be said, of bravery, because it breaks Pacific Island and Māori cultural taboos about nudity.

The gentle movement of the women is entirely in keeping with the mystical atmosphere, with some lovely details such as when the movement of the arms of the youngest woman produces a sudden shower of golden light.

The whole wonderful piece is beautifully conceived and carried through entering into the eternal world of myth. It gives a profound sense of the power of the female spirit and it is well worth braving the dark to achieve this insight. To enter into the pitch blackness and see the forms emerge is a magical experience.


A comment from the Fresh Gallery Otara Guest Book:

As a typical Maori woman, I appreciate the message. I continue to try and overcome this issue.
Mary Gush

Read more comments here

A new review…

A new review has been received from our call to generate written responses to the exhibition. Thank you Charmaine, a model / participant in the work, architect and Otara / Kingdom of Tonga native.

Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds

The taboo black box sits in Fresh Gallery Otara like an elephant in the room. This intriguing exhibition draws you into its intimate dark hole that immediately envelops one as you enter. Wha was not exposed is soon unashamedly gleaming. Confronted with the starkness of nude female bodies one must find direction deciding on what and where to begin. An orientation process that I find interesting as the bodies are juxtaposed as if cardinal points of nautical celestial bodies.

Read more here…

What do you think?

Critical reviews of contemporary Pacific art are few and far between. More often than not, reviewers are not Pacific people. The cultural intricacies and lived experience that informs the work is often missing from these interpretations and perspectives of Pacific art. Whilst mainstream reviews and write-ups are career currency, it is sad how much can get lost in translation.

In the interest of generating written responses and reviews of the exhibition Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds, Fresh Gallery Otara is offering an exciting goody bag to the best exhibition review received before 16 April!

The bag itself is a very limited edition 2011 South Auckland PACIFIC ARTS SUMMIT calico shopping bag! Very spacious! Very good looking!!

Two bottles of decent wine!

Lots of limited edition catalogues from Fresh Gallery Otara, Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku and other Manukau projects: hot hot hot!! Urban Pacific + Maori art history!! Catalogues feature writing from Ngahiraka Mason, Anna-Marie White, Ron Brownson, Megan Tamati-Quennell, Nigel Borell, Dionne Fonoti, Lisa Taouma, Jim Vivieaere and MORE!!

AND 2011 Pacific Arts Summit and Toi o Manukau T-shirts, Fresh Gallery Otara badges plus extra surprises!!

Submissions will be posted in the Reviews section and a panel of clever people will make a decision on the ‘best’ review after the exhibition closes on 16 April.

Comments can also be posted on this page, we want to know what you think!

Send reviews and enquiries to Ema Tavola: