Francis McWhannell

Writer and exhibition-maker

Latest stories

I bow my head

Emily Karaka’s Rāhui

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The kauri surrounding Otitori Bay Road in Titirangi stand near the edge of Te Wao Nui a Tiriwa, the Waitākere forest, on which Te Kawerau ā Maki placed a protective rāhui in late 2017. Many of the trees are afflicted by the disease known as ‘kauri dieback’. Their golden leaves fall on the paths that lead down from the roadside to McCahon House, the dwelling inhabited by Colin McCahon and his...

Spectacular catharsis

Claudia Kogachi’s It Is What It Is

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Claudia Kogachi’s work leans into the personal. The artist frequently depicts herself and members of her family carrying out everyday and leisure activities, using these to explore interpersonal dynamics and emotional states. Early paintings show her and her mother engaging in competitive pursuits, such as boxing and table tennis, which become metaphors for the combative dimension of the...

Resistant to wear

Claudia Kogachi’s Rugged Heart

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In Rugged Heart, Claudia Kogachi uses pictorial rugs to explore family ties and personal anxieties. The show has its roots in the global pandemic. Last year’s nationwide lockdown limited the artist’s access to painting supplies and encouraged her to experiment with new modes of making. She began to create tufted rugs, being attracted to the functional and sensuous aspects of the objects. Although...

A moment of optimism

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These communities were also coming to terms with the fact that they were no longer a reviled minority and realised that, if they wished to keep an identity that had been created through legal and social oppression over the course of two centuries, they needed to work to maintain their unique culture and to remember its long history.[1] —David Herkt, 2013 Is this feeling optimism? It is certainly...

Questions of place

Jhana Millers’ The Right Place?

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The Right Place?—Jhana Millers’ 2021 Auckland Art Fair presentation—features work by six early-career artists: Will Bennett, Harry Culy, Tyne Gordon, Ayesha Green, and Elisabeth Pointon of Aotearoa, and Lucy O’Doherty of Australia. The title of the show was a relatively late development. Millers’ initial intention was to focus on the dark sensibility of the ‘Antipodean Gothic’, an extension of...

No other way

On Paul Johns’ BEEN HERE LONG?

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Interesting what your parents say to you at the end. I said to my mother, ‘I’m probably not the type of son that you would have aspired to have,’ to which she replied, ‘I wouldn’t have wanted you any other way.’ —Paul Johns, 2021 BEEN HERE LONG? is the first solo exhibition by Paul Johns to be held in Tāmaki Makaurau in two decades. It represents a compact survey, spanning almost his entire...

Samoasonite

Jimmy Maʻiaʻi

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In Samoasonite, early-career artist Jimmy Maʻiaʻi explores his Samoan/Palagi heritage and questions the term ‘Afakasi’ (‘half-caste’), often used to refer to a person of such heritage in a derogatory manner. The title of the show combines ‘Sāmoa’ with ‘Samsonite’, a luggage brand. Central to the presentation is a kind of mass-produced woven plastic bag that is sometimes pejoratively called the...

In and between

On Luca Nicholas’sTriple Axel

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Triple Axel is Luca Nicholas’s first solo exhibition and the culmination of his study at Auckland University of Technology, where he recently completed his Master of Visual Arts degree. The print-based works on show are the product of experimentation with diverse processes and concepts, as Nicholas has attempted to develop a mode of making that explores queer experiences with ‘pathos, humour, and...

No end in sight

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To look at Bushmiller as an architect is entirely appropriate, for Nancy is, in a sense, a blue-print for a comic strip. Walls, floors, rocks, trees, ice-cream cones, motion lines, midgets and principals are carefully positioned with no need for further embellishment. And they are laid out with one purpose in mind—to get the gag across. Minimalist? Formalist? Structuralist? Cartoonist![1] —Mark...

What looms large

On Daegan Wells’ Bush coat

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It’s not about making the best thing, it’s about that process of learning, of having a conversation with someone who knows what they’re doing.[1] —Daegan Wells Truth be told, I do not know what a bush coat is. I picture something akin to a Swanndri. Heavy cloth, with squares of saturated colour neat as pastureland seen from the sky. The sort of jacket that I imagine might be worn by a character...

Francis McWhannell Writer and exhibition-maker

About

Francis McWhannell (b. 1985, Aotearoa New Zealand) is a writer and exhibition-maker based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. He is Curatorial Adviser for the dealer gallery Visions, and Curator of the Fletcher Trust Collection, a major private collection of Aotearoa art founded in 1962.