Brett Graham
Ark of Forbearance
19 May 2022 - 18 June 2022

Bartley & Company Art is delighted to present a major new site-specific installation by Brett Graham alongside two new wall works.

With Ark of Forbearance, Brett Graham asks questions about why we believe what we believe, and what we do in response to those beliefs.

While Graham’s new installation reminds of us apocalyptic floods and the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark, this is an ark for today. How do we navigate the world of rising sea levels, climate crisis, pandemic, war, terrorist attacks, challenges to the rights of women, and more, amidst strongly polarised perspectives and an increasing sense of the subjectivity of fact or truth?

Drawing on his highly acclaimed recent major exhibition Tai Moana Tai Tangata, at the Govett-Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth and at City Gallery Wellington, and advanced as he considered the occupation of Parliament grounds earlier this year, Graham’s ark explores issues that are both ancient and acutely contemporary about the nature of truth, belief and faith.

There are also local references to the passive resistance of the people of Parihaka in the 19th century and the oratory of their great leader Te Whiti, from which the exhibition takes its title. On the eve of the invasion Te Whiti told his people: “Forbearance is the sole ark of your safety. As Noah built the ark to carry his people safely through the flood, so let fortitude be the ark to save you.”

Filling the gallery space, this massive sculpture brings to mind the work of the great American artist Richard Serra and it operates, as does Serra’s work, to make us physically experience the scale, materiality and weight of sculpture. Here that weight is lent to a consideration of precariousness and the ways in which ‘truth’ or ‘logic’ can be redefined in accordance with belief.

In referencing both the Bible and Te Whiti, who is regarded as one of the world’s great pacifist leaders alongside, and preceding, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther-King and Nelson Mandela, Graham looks to the past to speak to the present.

The ark is accompanied by two new hand-carved spherical timber shields:

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Ark of forbearance
2022
Brett Graham
painted cedar
10.4 x 1.95 x 2.91m
Ark of forbearance
2022
Brett Graham
painted cedar
10.4 x 1.95 x 2.91m
Ark of forbearance
2022
Brett Graham
painted cedar
10.4 x 1.95 x 2.91m
Ark of forbearance
2022
Brett Graham
painted cedar
10.4 x 1.95 x 2.91m
Ark of forbearance
2022
Brett Graham
painted cedar
10.4 x 1.95 x 2.91m
Ark of forbearance
2022
Brett Graham
painted cedar
10.4 x 1.95 x 2.91m
Manawanui
2022
Brett Graham
hand carved American ash, lacquer, wax
1345 diameter x 370mm depth
Manawanui
2022
Brett Graham
hand carved American ash, lacquer, wax
1345 diameter x 370mm depth
Manawanui (side view 1)
Manawanui (side view 1)
Manawanui (side view 2)
Manawanui (side view 2)
Aceldama
2022
Brett Graham
hand carved American ash, gilded gold leaf
1085mm diameter x 480mm depth
Aceldama
2022
Brett Graham
hand carved American ash, gilded gold leaf
1085mm diameter x 480mm depth
Aceldama (side view 1)
Aceldama (side view 1)
Aceldama (side view 2)
Aceldama (side view 2)
Ark of forbearance installation view
Ark of forbearance installation view
Ark of forbearance installation view
Ark of forbearance installation view
Ark of forbearance installation view
Ark of forbearance installation view
Ark of forbearance installation view
Ark of forbearance installation view