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Exhibited in Heavy to Hold, Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Ōtepoti Dunedin

Heavy to Hold is a sculpture and audio installation that explores the construction of histories, a process of gaps, constant rebuilding and recarticulation.

Developed in 2016 during a residency in Ōtepoti Dunedin, Heavy to Hold explores the origins and material poetics of a hand-constructed sea wall that traces almost the entire coastline of the nearby Ōtākou Peninsula. The wall is a contested feature in local history, as illegally held Māori political prisoners from the peaceful land rights movement were part of the prison labour used to construct sections of it in the early 1870s. Due to harsh conditions and coastal erosion, it’s also a structure that’s difficult to maintain. I became interested in engaging with the wall as a kind of ‘human-made drawing’, requiring ongoing repairs from these fraught beginnings.

The installation is made from locally quarried Basalt rock, used for more recent reinforcement to the sea wall, paired with recordings of interviews conducted with a local archeologist and a Kāi Tahu kaumatua (Māori elder) from Ōtākou. The audio weaves together local Indigenous knowledge passed orally between generations, and empirical observations from working on the seawall site/s and materials.
Heavy to hold, 2016. Blackhead basalt, digital video, recorded interviews.