FRONTIA is an exhibition of new work by Lily Aitui Laita and Faith McManus. The title of the exhibition makes reference to ‘frontier culture’ in the artist’s respective practices.
For Laita, an art teacher at Western Springs College, the exhibition is the chance to show new paintings that build on territory explored over a long career.
… “The paintings are a continuation of the Nafanua (the revered Samoan warrior goddess) theme, though much more assertive in these works…
the Lupe (pigeons), now holds guns”…
For McManus, a lecturer at Northland Polytechnic, it was the myth of a cowboy movie being filmed in the Far North around 1926 that proved the inspiration for her new body of prints. The ‘Riders of the Red Manuka’, family stories of the cowboys and the artist’s own research underpin this new suite of works.
Faith supported by the Northtec Research Fund
The play on language, slippage, abstraction and expressionism is significant for both these artists.
“The Tia in the title is a reference to both our backgrounds”, says Laita. The Tia references the raised platforms used in pigeon snaring in Samoa and elsewhere in the Pacific. Tia in Maori, is to drive a stake in the land. Claiming a lawless space. It is in working in the va i ta, in the space between, of the known and unknown – the frontier land of creativity, that borders are crossed, and compelling magic and new visual storytelling emerge.
Giles Peterson, Curator / Lecturer New Zealand and Pacific Art. In conversation with the artists, August 2009.