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Level 5, Te PapaCurrent Exhibition
The imagination must be under the guidance of cool judgment, or we shall have fanciful representations instead of the truth.
William Hodges, 1793
Adorned brings together paintings, prints, and cultural treasures to explore the art of adornment in Māori and Pacific cultures.
Artists, photographers, and printmakers have pictured Māori and Pacific peoples since the first encounters of British explorer James Cook between 1768 and 1779. Often these artists exaggerated their subjects’ exoticism through careful attempts to detail adornments, including tatau (Samoan customary tattoos) and tā moko (Māori customary tattoos). Into the late 19th century, artists also used taonga (treasures) as props to make their sitters appear ‘authentic’ to European audiences.
The art works shown here helped create an image of the Pacific, an image at once accurate and idealised.