UKU//UTU Curated by Māia Abraham and Jesse-James Pickery

18 July 2019 - 24 August 2019

With Nigel Borell, Heramaahina Eketone and Wi Taepa

Uku being from the body of Papatuānuku and also being the material that sculpted the first human, Hineahuone in Māori oral tradition, represents a direct connection with the land. Our language, Te Reo, mimics the waves of the ocean, the birds of the trees and the shapes of the hills. The way we communicate and relate to each other is intrinsically connected to the land from which we come from. Uku is a powerful symbol of this whakapapa through which we can gather people together to learn and teach each other.

Curated by Jesse-James Pickery (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua) and Māia Abraham (Ngāi te Rangi, Ngāi Tūhoe), UKU//UTU aims to disrupt the structure of a formal exhibition as a site for wānanga, where practitioners and guests with specialist knowledge will facilitate discussion around uku and its impact on relationships with ourselves, other people and places.

This wānanga invites artists, guests and visitors to collaborate over six weeks in the gallery, which will function like a studio during open hours. In addition to this, there will be a vibrant series of events and public programmes that reimagine the structure and function of exhibition making and presentation within a contemporary experimental framework.

Guest dates:

Wi Taepa: Wednesday 17 July – Saturday 24 August

Heramaahina Eketone: Tuesday 23 July – Thursday 25 July

Nigel Borell: Wednesday 14 August – Thursday 15 August

Public Programme
All events are free to attend.

Every Tuesday, 11am
Weekly Kōrero: reflection and goal setting for the week ahead

Wednesday 24 July, 11am–4pm
Drawing Workshop: with Heremaahina Eketone
Saturday 3 August, 11am–3pm

Uku Workshop: with Wi Taepa and Jesse-James Pickery

Tuesday 6 August, 12pm–1:30pm
Kōrero with Marilynn Webb facilitated by Jesse-James Pickery - Postponed.

Wednesday 14 August, 11am–1:00pm
Nigel Borell and Marilynn Webb in conversation with Māia Abraham

Thursday 15 August, 11am–1pm
Ngā Kaihanga Uku and Uku History with Nigel Borell

Saturday 17 August – Sunday 18 August, 10:00am-10:00am 
Overnight stay on Kamau Taurua/Quarantine Island lead by Rauhina Scott-Fyfe and the community on the Island. 


You can hear Lynley Edmeades response Clay Song read in English here and translated to Te Reo Māori by Rauhina Scott-Fyfe here.


Jesse-James Pickery (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua) is an artist based in Ōtepoti, working with uku (clay and ceramics) to explore concepts of connection and value. Jesse graduated from the Dunedin School of Art in 2018 and is currently undertaking a Masters of Science Communication at The University of Otago.

Māia Abraham (Ngāi te Rangi, Ngāi Tūhoe) is a curator and artist  currently living in Ōtautahi. Having moved from Katikati, he completed a BFA majoring in Sculpture from School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury in 2017. Within his practice he uses art and curating as a way of exploring kaupapa Māori ways of thinking and working; asking how does manaakitanga exist in the arts? Or perhaps why is whanaungatanga important to the artistic process? Māia is one of 3 kaiwhakahaere of Ōtautahi Kōrerotia, a collective producing events and exhibitions for and by local artists based in Ōtautahi. He was the Toi Māori and Creative New Zealand Māori Art Intern at Blue Oyster Art Project Space for 2018, co-curating the exhibition Wā o mua, September 2018. Upcoming curatorial projects include: Whitu, Masterworks Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau, June 2019, Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, September–October 2019 and Hastings City Art Gallery, Heretaunga, November 2019.