In 2018 Suffrage 125 celebrations provide opportunities to remember the Suffragettes and what they fought for, and to reflect on women’s rights in the 21st century.
In the exhibition Vahine Wahine Jo Torr reflects on the position of women through history with her unique conceptual sculpture. Each sculpture takes the form of a garment that incorporates an aspect of Polynesian/Maori or European cloth and an aesthetic sensibility associated with either culture. Her Transit of Venus works are beautiful and elaborate gowns that explore the exchanges between European and Polynesian peoples at the time of James Cook’s voyages in the South Pacific. The gowns are based on European dress styles of the 1770’s when Cook’s voyages took place, and point to the similarity in silhouette with Tahitian tapa gift-giving ceremonies. Kaitaka presents a spectacular couple in 1880s dress constructed from cream coloured woollen blankets that stand in for muka, the dressed flax fibre of traditional Maori cloaks.
These works examine the historical interrelation of Maori cloaks and European woollen blankets drawing attention to the way Maori adopted and adapted new materials into everyday life.
Jo Torr is an award-winning artist whose art is exhibited and collected by public museums, art galleries and private collections. Through her sculpture she explores mutual cultural exchange between Polynesian and European peoples. She has tertiary qualifications in fine art, graphic design, Maori visual arts, fashion design, museum studies and librarianship. She currently works as the Registrar at the Tauranga Art Gallery.
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