Chris has been a prolific maker of jewellery as well as sculpture since the mid-1980s. His practice has been influenced by his early training as a carver. Of Kiribati and Fijian heritage, Polynesian forms, traditional tools, ceremonial objects, patterns, taonga and body adornment are a natural source of contemplation and design. With a growing international profile, Chris’s work can be found in a number of public and private collections, including Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, The Dowse Art Museum, the British Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge. Chris’ practice
Inspired by traditional Pacific adornment – including breast plates, wasekaseka, pounamu and whale tooth pendants – Chris employs natural materials to make jewellery suited to commemorative and ceremonial use. Kouma, 2005, for instance, reworks a traditional circular breastplate form with a serrated edge by forming it from pounamu. At times, his work also involves making large-scale sculptures or installations based upon jewellery forms. In 2000, Chris used 96 round granite stones as giant beads for a large scale necklace-shaped installation entitled Forces of Land and Ocean.
His interest in nature also extends to ecological concerns. In 2006, to express his ongoing support for the whaling moratorium, Chris fashioned whale ribs sourced from a local beach into forms reminiscent of whaling harpoons. Integral to Chris’ practice is a deep respect for materials. Enjoying a growing ability to be less conscious of his working process, Chris has adopted a more freely experimental and intuitive response to materials and ideas. For Pacific Cross, 2007, Chris carved directly onto the scoria stone, foregoing any preparatory drawings and choosing instead to work responsively to the stone’s form. This spontaneous approach marks a point of difference to his usual process of pre-planning, shaping and polishing. The markings found in the cross relate to Pacific designs found in weaving, tattoo and tapa. This work is part of a larger series of Pacific Crosses, which employ a variety of different stones that are all nonetheless sourced from the Coromandel. While Chris continues to use natural materials, his experimentation now includes man made materials such as Perspex.
Chris has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in New Zealand, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Selected solo exhibitions include Forces of Land and Ocean, Milford Galleries Dundein, 2016; Tungaru: The Kiribati Project in collaboration with Jeff Smith, Mangere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, Auckland Museum, Pātaka Art + Museum, 2014-2016; Tuanako, FhE Gallery, Auckland, 2011; To the Heart of the Matter, FhE Gallery, Auckland, 2010; Unlocked, Koru Contemporary Art, Hong Kong, 2009; Matau, FhE Galleries, Auckland, 2008; Spaces Between, Gallery at Woollaston, Nelson, 2008 and Cross Cultures, Janne Land Gallery, Wellington, 2006. Group exhibitions include Contemporary Artefacts, Corban Estate Arts Centre, 2016; Wunderruma, Galerie Handwerk Munich, Germany and The Dowse Art Museum, Wellington, 2014; Stone, Fingers, Auckland, 2014; Laisee - 10 Years of Koru Contemporary Art in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2011 and Pasifika Styles, Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, England, 2008. Chris is represented by Fingers, Auckland, Fhe Galleries, Auckland Milford Galleries Dunedin and Koru Contemporary Art, Hong Kong.
Icons Nga Taonga From the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Te Papa Press, Wellington, 2004
Pacific Art Niu Sila,the Pacific dimension of contemporary New Zealand Arts, Te Papa Press, Wellington, 2002
Noble Savage 2 Dusky Maidens Niki Hastings- McFall, Sofia Tekela Smith, Chris Charteris, Brebner Print Auckland, 2000
Pasifika Styles, Artists inside a museum, University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in association with Otago University Press 2008