Three people who share history are exhibiting in the same space at the same time. Carly Thomas hears their stories.
The three of them sit around the table. Pam Vernon, the mum, is slight and gentle. Ana Mihaera, the daughter, is restless and quick to laugh and James, the son, is calm and expressive. The trio laugh about him being "the tall one in the family".
And they are family. You can see that in the way they look at each other, finish each other's sentences and are as proud as can be of each other's art practice.
They are all artists in their own way and, by a fortunate coincidence, are all showing their work at Te Manawa, Palmerston North, right now in three different exhibitions.
Pam has just completed her batchelor of Māori visual arts at Massey University and is exhibiting her paintings and protest pieces in Matatau.
Ana is part of The Women's Art Initiative's exhibition Ko Wai Ahau? and has her mixed-media anti-violence works on display and James has finished off his bachelor of creative media degree at UCOL and his video is part of Eat Sleep Create Repeat.
They didn't plan it. They just happened to have all been following their own creative paths, which led to the same place at the same time. Pam grins and say: "It's pretty neat eh?"
The three meet at Te Manawa and Ana is the first to point out one of her works. It is in the space outside the entrance, which houses Massey and UCOL's exhibitions, and her mahi is strong and forthright. This one bears the label: "Whitewashed myth: Can't have been that bad or they would have left."
"I started learning about my history and the colonisation process and that's when I started my art. You need to have an outlet. Somethings can be explained and others can't and so this is my avenue."
Ana was brought up in the arms of her activist mother, who has always stood for social justice, and she says her own activism started when Pam took her "in the pushchair to a Māori land march with Whina Cooper". That was in 1975 and now all these years on, her mum is still fighting while also using her art to help communicate what she believes in.
She feels strongly about the place where her family are from and a painting of Jerusalem, a little settlement with a big history up the Whanganui River, spreads wide on Te Manawa's wall.
"We call it Patiarero. That's what it is really called and this painting speaks of the presence of the missionaries and how they renamed everything."
Next to the painting is a collection of images and words that shout.
Pam is vehemently opposed to the use of 1080, a metabolic poison used in pest control, and she has used this space to say exactly that. She puts it in the same bracket as colonisation. "It is taking something away from us.
"It is our land that is being poisoned and our awa and our food sources."
Pam's son tells people's stories too. James has his mum's quietly strong way and on the other side of the gallery space his offering plays in a continuous loop.
Thank you Pam for informing and inspiring us!
Awesome mahi Pam and whanau! Tumeke!
Well done family. Big voice together, communicating important messages to NZ. Very exciting.
Impressive stuff Danielle.
Thanks Rose for posting this, and thank you all of you for your encouraging words. It's been a lot of hard work for me not being a 'spring chicken' (as my mama used to say!) any more plus managing health issues. Glad it's done & the main purpose being (as you RC would know) a platform ... a different way of communicating about the issues that are so affecting us all. Our world. Everything. Much love & thank you all again. So appreciate your comments.
(I'll add the update here when it's done).
Crickey, nice work Pam!
Totally awesome achievement Pam, and lovely that you are getting some recognition for your considerable talents and hard work! It's cool to see your son and daughter are each following in your footsteps but in their own individual ways.
You are making a difference for the better with your courage, commitment and passion for educating others, speaking up when many are silent regarding the most important issues affecting humanity and our planet.
Thankyou for being you, and it's a privilege to know you...and Rose and all the other like-minded folk here at the CON Trail.
Thanks Nym, Marian, George, Fiona, RC & Joanne. Your comments / feedback much appreciated! Encouragement goes a very long way : ) Hopefully I will be able to pop into the CT more often now. I missed the natters on here with like minded people. What a great community this is. There are some very toxic forums out there.
Anyway, wishing you all a blessed Christmas or whatever it is you celebrate at this time of the year xxx
Awesome to see all that creativity, really beautiful Pam. Merry Christmas to you and yours! :-)
thank you CP ... and a Merry Christmas to you & yours too xx
Wonderful story. What a close family working together, yet separately. Long may it continue, and may your work be recognised and enjoyed by many. Inspirational.