When we were approached by AWA Films about a documentary series in July 2011, we recognised an opportunity that hadn't come our way before.
Image from Behind the Brush
The artist, the patron and tupuna Māori
Czech artist Gottfried Lindauer's name is synonymous with
portraits of significant 19th-century Māori leaders made as early
as 1874, one year after Lindauer arrived in New Zealand. Fourteen
of the portraits in the series are on display in the Gallery's
historic New Zealand portrait gallery to support the increased
interest in Lindauer's portraiture and to celebrate the artworks as
taonga from the collection.
The idea behind the series is to bring alive the stories of
descendants and to uncover the lives of the artist, the patron and
tupuna Māori. The Māori Television series Behind the
Brush will lead the way for a proposed international
touring exhibition of Lindauer's portraits to Germany in 2014 and
an illustrated publication featuring Lindauer's portraits and genre
paintings held in the Gallery's Partridge Collection.
Background to the series
When we were approached by AWA Films' director Julian
Arahanga about a documentary series in July 2011, we recognised an
opportunity that hadn't come our way before. We responded
cautiously but positively to a timely examination of a well-loved
artist and a much-visited collection. It was an opportunity also to
acknowledge the research that Gallery staff undertook to make this
website, which went live in July 2010, and to extend our descendant
permissions process for the use of ancestor images in the public
domain. We would go on to share this with AWA Films.
One year out from filming for the series we knew that Behind
the Brush had an on-air date and we drew up a formal
relationship with AWA Films to co-produce the series. The expertise
and guidance of Gallery staff was critical to the making of the
series. As well, the talent and reputation of AWA films made it a
desirable and timely proposition.
We introduced the director and producer of the series (Maramena
Roderick) to Lindauer, Partridge and Māori descendants of
ancestors. I made the initial selection after discussion of our
favourites, and we discussed a balance of women and men to offer up
those ancestors who appear in the first series. In a way the
selection was obvious, but I believe ancestors also guided the
selection. Descendants generously shared their personal insights,
intimate words and family accounts for the series. You could say
that their whanau chronicles are among New Zealand art's most
Bringing heart to bear on history
Auckland Art Gallery
holds the most portraits painted by Lindauer in the southern
Hemisphere. We still don't know how many Māori portraits Lindauer
painted and this is part of the mystery and magic of a beloved
artist who was considered the people's painter.
Lindauer and Partridge's descendants describe how they were
shaped by their ancestors and how their legacy is forever entwined
with the descendants of Māori ancestors. The series is bilingual,
and while many New Zealanders may not know the individuals in the
series, they will recognise the faces they see, and bear witness to
heartfelt stories that bring heart to our shared histories.
Ngahiraka Mason, Indigenous Curator, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o