Ahi Mahana

Ahi Mahana 
Renee Cosgrave (Ngāti Tūwharetoa)
Sean Miles (Ngāti Raukawa)

Sutton Projects
16 March - 9 April, 2019

Ahi Mahana is a term that describes those who live away from kāinga, meaning "home" or more specifically "where the fire burns", but they now and again return to put some wahie (firewood) on the ahi (fire). Renee Cosgrave (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) and Sean Miles (Ngāti Raukawa) use this term as a basis to link their experiences of being Māori diaspora and reflect on their positioning within this concept. This exhibition comes from a year-long kōrero between the two artists, discussing their feelings and thoughts related to whānau (family), whenua (land), Māoritanga (culture) and whakapapa (genealogy).

Renee's work is concerned with abstract painting - exploring colour, gesture, repetition and her identity. Her works for Ahi Mahana explore her whakapapa and are dedicated to her dad. Two abstract paintings were created, one represents her Pākehā grandfather William Leaonard Bissett and the other represents her Māori grandmother Manuhira Jean Rawhiti.

Sean uses queer methods of storytelling such as drag to connect with familiar attitudes in archetypes and ancient legends that exist within a time and space beyond Western, colonial, heteronormative binaries. Through this process, they celebrate and revel in moments of empowerment, liberation, subversion and resistance. Sean's work for Ahi Mahana is inspired by the trickster, shape-shifting and cultural hero Māui, in particular, their great fate of trickery in which they deceived Mahuika to bring ahi to the people.

We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations as the traditional owners and sovereign custodians of the land on which Sutton Projects is situated and where we live and work and we extend our respects to their ancestors and elders past and present.

Photography: Christo Crocker