Te Ara i Whiti Artist Feature – George

George Watson

Ngāti Mutunga, Moriori, Ngāti Porou

George Watson is an artist and writer, graduating with a Masters in Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, and a Bachelor of Media Arts from Wintec Majoring in Painting and Sculpture.

George works predominantly with sculpture and installation to create immersive exhibitions that explore ideas of cultural belonging, identity and nationhood. Her work looks at the aesthetic mores and decorative conventions of early settler culture in Aotearoa (especially in architecture, literature and clothing) and at how these conventions are imported and enforced, not only through colonial violence, but through the relentless normalisation of western thought and cultural practice. By appropriating and parodying aesthetic conventions of the Empire she hopes to question, and to make strange, the ideological foundations that these instil around property, ownership, and family structures.

Recent work includes a collaboration with Abigail Aroha Jensen, Pūtahitanga Kura curated by Bridget Riggir-Cuddy for The Lightship (2021), the group show They Covered the House in Stories, curated by Amy Weng for Te Tuhi (2021), and another collaboration with Abigail Aroha Jensen, Manawa i te Kāniwha curated by Tyson Campbell for Artspace Aotearoa (2021), Eternal Girlhood of the Settler State, presented by May Fair Art Fair in collaboration with Tyson Campbell (2020). Upcoming projects include: Kōtiro, Emepaea, Te Uru Gallery Waitakere Contemporary Art Gallery, Solo Exhibition curated by Tendai John Mutambu (November, 2021)

Te Ara i Whiti

George is one of our twelve exhibiting artists for Te Ara i Whiti 2021.

Her work for Te Ara i Whiti, Humi, explores an entanglement of cultural forms, which carry with them very different understandings of place. One is a replica wrought iron gate decorated with hearts and curlicues, harking back to aesthetic conventions of the British empire in which heavily ornamented balustrades, facades and gateways signified status whilst having the dual function of demarcating and protecting private property. Woven through the bars of these gates, like strands of DNA or umbilical cords are threads of kōwhaiwhai, which tell stories of Te Aho; of connection. Running across the tāhuhu of our meeting houses, kōwhaiwhai function to encode whakapapa, binding generations to the whenua; to their turangawaewae.