Ayesha Green: To the best of my Knowledge
14 August – 28 November 2021 | Holt Gallery
Over the last six months Ayesha Green has been developing a body of work specifically for the Holt Gallery. This exhibition looks at the visual language and history of Native Schooling in New Zealand with a focus on Hukarere Girls’ College, founded in 1875 and located in Hawke’s Bay.
The early education of Māori girls is pivotal in the assimilation tactics undertaken by the colonial government, alongside missionaries’ activities. As agents of change Māori girls were expected to take their new-found Pākehā knowledge into the kāinga, and thus becoming assimilators on behalf of the colony. However, these women became leaders in advocating for and creating positive change for Māori, whose achievements have given agency to Māori women across the country.
It is this paradox that is the cornerstone to the artwork in this exhibition; the dichotomy between settler assimilation tactics and the achievements of Māori women who attended these schooling systems. This exhibition sets up a space to look at how we can tell stories about Māori women in understanding their own power within systems that were set up to render them powerless.
Ayesha Green (Kai Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu (Heretaunga)) is an artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Ayesha graduated with a Bachelor of Media Arts from Wintec in 2009 and went on to complete a Master of Fine Arts from Elam in 2013. In 2016 she completed a Graduate Diploma in Arts specialising in Museums and Cultural Heritage. In August 2019 she was announced the winner of the National Contemporary Art Awards. In 2020 she was a recipient of the Springboard Award from the Arts Foundation and this year was awarded the 2021 Rydal Art Prize.
Recent exhibitions include: Wrapped up in Clouds, Dunedin Public Art Gallery (2020); Strands, The Dowse Art Museum (2019); Elizabeth the First, Jhana Millers (2019); Two Oceans at Once, ST PAUL St Gallery (2019). She has work included in Toi Tū Toi Ora at the Auckland Art Gallery and is currently working on a public sculpture commissioned by the Dunedin City Council.
 Following the New Zealand wars, the Native Schools Act 1867 established a national system of village primary schools under the control of the Native Department.
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