Entrenched in the New Zealand landscapes lies a history that resides deeply in the unconscious, feeding off anxiety, fear and isolation. It is a history filled with unease as the very act of colonization brought two distinctly different cultures into close parameters. The relationship between Maori and Europeans settlers could be described as fraught with tension, as each struggled to hold on to their individual identity. It is the landscape itself that could be considered a site of cultural conflict and division.



According to Oxford, Antipodes refers to the location that are directly opposite from one another. Australia and New Zealand are almost exactly opposite to Europe are described as the Antipodes. It is in this context that New Zealand colonial history could be described as an Antipode; a collision of cultural opposites.



This series, Antipodes explores the dark gothic nature of the New Zealand landscape as a distortion of the familiar. Compared to nineteenth century Britain, New Zealand was a world of opposites; where trees did not loose their leaves the lands were coved in a thick impenetrable bush. It was a place where the indigenous people preformed strange customs and rituals, which unjustifiably labeled them as the  ‘The Other’.



Focusing on Wanganui’s rich colonial history this series explores the dark gothic nature of Maori and European relations. In one incident a single cultural misunderstanding lead to a series of events that spiraled out of control. An accidental discharge of a gun from a naval officer wounded a Putiki Maori on 16th April 1847. As an act of revenge or utu a group of Maori killed four members of the Gilfillan family. This pivotal act of violence lead to the eventual abandonment of the settlement and a battle that would occur at St Johns Wood. What remains at these sites of this cultural tension and conflict?

 

The landscape series explores what is no longer visible to the naked eye, history. A history in which two distinctly different cultures struggled to hold on to their own individual identities in a land known as the Antipodes.

Exhibited

2010 Juried Exhibition, High Museum, 3 - 8 Nov, Atlanta, USA

2010 Sunlight in a Empty Room, Kibbee Gallery, Oct, Atlanta, USA

© Copyright Jonathan Kay 2020