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Mark Wooller – Charting the Catch


Sat 5 Oct 2019, 11:00am–3:00pm
Wed 9 Oct 2019, 11:00am–4:30pm
Thu 10 Oct 2019, 11:00am–4:30pm
Fri 11 Oct 2019, 11:00am–4:30pm
Sat 12 Oct 2019, 11:00am–3:00pm

Where: Warwick Henderson Gallery, 255 Broadway, Newmarket, Auckland

Restrictions: All Ages

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Listed by: Anne Gifford

Matakana based artist Mark Wooller produces oil paintings in a semi surrealist style featuring the New Zealand bush and landscape. Wooller studies the history associated with various aspects of New Zealand landscape, and in his work he refers to a multitude of ephemera, documentation and historical records. These details enrich the narratives of his pieces.

In Charting the Catch, Wooller pulls together intricately woven nets and traditional fishing devices to detail a ‘kai moana’ theme. Inspired by the book ‘Fishing Methods and devices of the Maori’ (Elsdon Best, 1929), Wooller's distinctive drop shadow embellishes the knotted vessels, bringing them to the forefront of his paintings and emphasising their materiality. Wooller explains that his use of these ‘hīnaki’ or eel pots, are less about the act of fishing, and more about the idea of filtering thoughts that float by.

Original hīnaki had one entrance, which faced downstream. The bait would be placed inside and the eels or ‘tuna’ would swim upstream to find it. The entrance to the trap was called the akura, and was a circle of inwardly pointed sticks. The eel could push through to get the bait, but could not escape. The best hīnaki were works of art in themselves. For transport, they could be dampened with water and pressed flat for travel.

Wooller’s use of typography and labeling serves purpose as a map-like reading format. He finds importance in rooting the artworks in particular locations to give contextual reference to the placement and backgrounds associated with each piece. As seen in ‘Five rivers’, ‘To Catch’, and ‘Northland Lakes’ ; the words and the landscape features allow the piece to be read like a map. While in the painting ‘Charting the Catch’, the names refer to the type of eel, the size, and the colour.

Talking to this series of work, Wooller explains that “like the passage of time many of these words have fallen from our vocabulary, the richness of their descriptive usage can be held within the hīnaki’/ eel pot vessel expressed here on canvas. So, the Hinaki becomes the vessel to harvest and preserve the precious Māori nomenclature.”

Consistent across Wooller's work is an interest in our shared relationships with the natural environment, history and language, Charting the Catch continues this exploration.

Mark Wooller has staged numerous solo exhibitions since 1988. He has work in collections both locally and internationally.

Image Credit: To catch an Eel, Oil on canvas, 80 x 120 cm, 2019

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