D I O N
H I T C H E N S
Light has been a fundamental aspect of my installation art practice which started formerly in 1999 with ‘Atea’ the window work for the Auckland City Art Gallery. I see it as a 3d drawing process with light and objects often including motion sensors and movement. I approach these opportunities in the opposite way to the public art works. I purposely plan less. I am more spontaneous and more responsive to a space, a time and context. I work in materials that are bound less by permanence and are chosen more for texture, colour, shadow, light reflection and as signs that impart meaning. I like the idea that the work isn’t complete without an audience. The audience triggers elements, making things move, they create shadows they instigate change to the space just by being present.
Location: Auckland City Art Gallery.
Materials: stainless steel, steel, electronics, supplejack.
The title Atea comes from the idea of
the ‘space between’ like the Atea of a Marae (Meeting house). This is at the front of the marae where the powhiri (welcoming ceremonies) take place. The ‘space between’ the physical world and the spiritual world, the ‘space between’ audience and the art work, the ‘space between’ you and me.The ‘space between’ is an ever changing space that we negotiate and within this space, form meaningful relationships.
Atea was made for the Auckland Art Gallery window.
The audience made assumptions of the work based on the woven material technology. A motion sensor on the
outside of the building triggered motors that
oscillated the stainless steel making it move in an
It also triggered a smoke machine and the lights would change. The stainless steel at times would look like glass.
Rangawhenua is a structure used in whaikorero (Maori formal speeches), where
aspects of the whenua (land) are layered (ranga), woven into a story to acknowledge
Tangata Whenua (people of the land of that place). This visual version was made in
response to a Tibetan Healing Mandela which was created during the show.
The show was at the Whakatane Museum. Whakatane is shared by more than one
Iwi (tribe), Ngati Awa, Whakatohea and Tuhoe, in recent times.
Location: Whakatane Museum.
Materials: wood, aluminium,
led lights, electronics, baby formula cans, animation.
The work layers two mountains. The first being
Maungapohatu, a Tuhoe Maunga (mountain) in the Urewera National Park, New Zealand and Eagle Peak in Northern India. A location where the great Buddha, Shakyamuni,
resounded his teachings. The diamond star is a symbol adopted by the Tuhoe profit
Rua Kenana, who established the community at Maungapohatu.
The animation is of a modern day Buddha sitting on a T.V chanting a buddhist chant.
The smell of the ashy wood permeates the space, the shadows echo the forms, filling the gallery with an eery
presence. The work is interactive, using a motion sensor to trigger movement. The audience makes assumptions about the work based on the woven material technology. The
electronics move the smaller work in the corner and the initial assumptions are broken, giving the audience a surprise.
Manaaki Patupiahere is an installation work that was first
exhibited in the Auckland City Art Gallery in the exhibition
Purangiaho. The works are made from a Totara log from my uncle’s backyard in Te Teko. The tree had been buried in ash in the Tarawera Explosion of 1886.
Title: Manaaki Patupiahere
Collection: Waikato Museum.
Materials: totara (native timber), steel and electronics.
Scale: all forms individually are 2-2.4 meters H, 0.6 meters W,
0.6 meters D.
prompted me to ponder the changes the tree had seen. It once stood in a world pre-colonised, a Maori world that
acknowledged many spiritual entities, such as the
Manaaki is a principle that is fundamental to Maori.
It translates as respect, but really means much more, as it is interconnected to the value system of Mana. Patupiahere are present in many stories around the country. Amongst other things, they taught us how to weave fishing nets and the correct karakia (prayer) for cutting down trees. They are protective entities that live between a spirit world and our physical world.
Nga Manu is a body of work that was developed at an
artist residency in Taiwan in 2013. The work is installed as a
permanent installation in one of the government buildings in Fangliao, Taiwan.
The residency was put together to acknowledge the
Austronesian connection with Maori.
Title: Nga Manu
Collection: Kaohsiung City Collection.
Materials: aluminium, electronics, wood, plastic.
Scale: birds are about actual size.
The works employ LED lights to cast Kowhaiwhai patterns
accross the room. Kowhaiwhai Patterns are traditionally used in Marae (ancestral houses). The name Kowhaiwhai suggests that the designs orginated from the Kowhai flower. The
patterns are loaded with specific meaning, and traditionally were chosen very carefully to decorate a Heke (rafter in an
ancestral house). They assist in the storytelling of specific
Tipuna (Ancestors) on the Marae.
The Piwakawaka (Fantail bird) has a relationship
to Hine-nui-te-po which goes back to the story of Maaui
trying to gain immortality for all people by defying the goddess of death. The Piwakawaka’s laughter warns Hine-nui-te-po of Maaui’s actions. These stories are presented as children’s stories but when they are further unraveled, they speak very strongly of values, of things you can do and should never do.
Title: Children of light
Collection: Frazerhurst Family
Location: NZSOS, New Zealnd Sculpture on the shore
Materials: powder coated, galvanised steel
Scale: 2400 to 2800 mm high
This series of work was inspired from the missing Maori
Goddesses which have been left out of the literature by
anthropologists at the turn of the 20th century.
This was an easy mistake to make as only Men engaged in the recording of the cultures; they only consulted men so they only got the men’s cultural knowledge. Mana Wahine (female) cultural knowledge is important to embrace
to bring a balance to society.