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  • Writer's pictureLaura Donkers

subsume exhibition opened on Sat 24 Feb at Northart, Northcote, Auckland


In recognition of the lingering effects of past actions on present day Aotearoa New Zealand, the subsume exhibition presents the cultural context of early European settlers through nostalgic themes juxtaposed with contemporary audio-visual representations of iconic native flora and fauna species.

In a single intensive decade, from 1890 to 1900, twenty seven percent of Aotearoa’s existing forest was cleared. At around the same time, a collection of music sheets was brought from England and bound at Leigh & Sons Bookbinders, High Street, Auckland. The lyrics of these sentimental songs contain poignant references to the social conditions of the period and express, perhaps, some of the reasoning behind many an immigrant’s quest to build a new life in Aotearoa New Zealand.


subsume is a socially engaged art exhibition and events programme that uses sound and touch to explore the legacy of deforestation as a consequence of early settler colonialism. These senses connect the public emotionally to the legacy of deforestation through the social context of early settlers expressed in their songs and the frottage drawing process that evokes touching and being-in-touch-with difference and entanglement. Frottage is a drawing process where mark making is achieved through gentle stroking actions with coloured pastel onto sensitive but resilient paper.  


Exhibited works comprise of a series of human-scale (2000x1000mm) tree frottage drawings, a set of archival digital prints of frottage tree drawings made on semi-transparent Japanese Gampi (8gsm) overlaying the vintage music sheets, and an ecological sound work combining the eighteenth-century songs with the sounds of Aotearoa’s forest birds, frogs and invertebrates.


Supporting social engagement events comprise of community singing workshops and frottage drawing activities, which speculate on the social, political and cultural context of the settler and the unprecedented scales of deforestation for economic/agricultural development to highlight the continued impact on fragile ecosystems. The hopes are that these activities offer a reflective and restorative perspective on the nature-culture divide reinforced by a growing awareness of human influence and entwinement in a big natural system.


Public Programme:

Drawing Workshop

Saturday 09 March 2024

12:15 - 2pm

Free event, to RSVP please email us: staff@northart.co.nz


Make Your Mark Nature Event with Kaipatiki EcoHub

Saturday 16 March

10am-1pm


Artist Talk/Conversation between Laura Donkers, Claudia Evans and Noah Page

Saturday 16 March

2pm onwards


Free event, to RSVP please email us: staff@northart.co.nz





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