A Chance to Be Educated in Maori Art

Article excerpt

The Ballance House, family homestead to the eponymous John, one of New Zealand's most liberal Prime Ministers, stands at the end of a long rising lane of the Lisburn-Glenavy Road.

Another Mr Ballance goes about his business, farming, as you park well clear of his tractor's path through the farmyard.

So what, you may muse, stepping out into the fresh country air, do you know about New Zealand art? The war chant of the All Blacks chilling Landsdowne Road. Kiri Te Kanawa, the opera diva. Harvey Kietel, sombre, powerful in Jane Campion's, The Piano. The desperate savaged beauty of Once Were Warriors. An image of tribal tattoos.

Inside, the current art exhibition called Kura has been curated by Toi Maori Aotearoa, the Maori Arts Council of New Zealand. It presents a mix, as you might expect of paintings and carvings.

A marvellous fecund wooden box, almost oval, stands on rests, feathers outside, more within. A wall carving suggests a mythical bird from whose feathers arrow flets might be fashioned. …