New view for tukutuku

Kaokao (variation 2), currently on loan to Christchurch Art Gallery

If you happen to visit the Christchurch Art Gallery in the next few months you’ll see a piece of Christchurch City Libraries on display.

Ten of the library’s tukutuku panels are on temporary loan as part of an exhibition put together by assistant curator Nathan Pohio called ‘Moroki‘. This word refers to something with an ongoing nature and expresses continuity. In this instance the focus is on historic and contemporary Māori artworks that offer insight into the relationships between Māori art and architecture, and is part of a wider exhibition highlighting 19th and 20th century New Zealand art currently on display at the art gallery.

This is not the first time the tukutuku panels have had a temporary change of home.

Created in 2001 as part of a community art project led by Ngā Puna Waihanga, 19 tukutuku panels were installed in Ngā Pounamu Māori, the Māori resource area on the 2nd floor of the Central Library in 2002. 

After the library building was damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes the panels were removed and eventually distributed to a number of libraries around the network. The tukutuku panels currently on loan to the art gallery were previously housed at the Linwood and Aranui libraries. When Tūranga, the new central library building currently under construction in Cathedral Square, opens the tukutuku panels will again be brought together and displayed with the Māori collection.

Tukutuku panels
Tukutuku panels on display in Ngā Pounamu Māori, Central Library, 26 July 2002. Flickr CE-Refurb-MaoriPanels

The ten tukutuku panels currently on display at the art gallery sit across from paintings of Māori architecture and carvings, and the colours, shapes and designs on the panels really have an opportunity to shine when placed alongside other artworks.

If you want to know more about how, why and by whom the library’s tukutuku panels were created check out our Puāwaitanga o te Ringa – Fruits of our busy hands resource for photos of the panels along with explanations of the different designs and their meanings.

Art at work

Image of Kaitiakitanga
Kaitiakitanga
Created By Gavin Britt, July 2008

I don’t think e-readers are ever going to have the same aesthetic appeal as books. I like the look of books. More than that, I like the look of rooms full of books interspersed with some art .

There are times when I forget to really look at my surroundings, but I do have fond memories of the artworks in Christchurch libraries: the beautiful art deco mirror at New Brighton (by Maureen J. Stewart), the stunning circular carving that graced Bishopdale (pictured right) and the lovely print behind the membership desk at Redwood (Tangaroa: The Fishing Man by Michael Tuffery).

But it is the art at Central that I miss most of all. Which is why I am so taken aback that there aren’t any large glossy tomes on Art in Libraries. It is a book that is crying out to be written.

However you can make a start on exploring this topic with the beautiful Living with books. Move on to look at our library art collection and maybe take a trip down memory lane to visit our Tukutuku panels. You could even treat yourself  to a road trip that takes in cool little art galleries around New Zealand. Or you could just pop along to the staff art exhibition at New Brighton this month where you get to see library art by librarians.

How about  you, do you too still haunt the corridors of long-gone public spaces – glancing from side to side at the art work you maybe took for granted?