Folded in the hills
9 December 2023 - 7 April 2024
‘It’s nothing to do with drawing landscape, it’s to do with connection…’
Marilynn Webb (1937 – 2021)
Across five decades, Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa and Ngāti Kahu artist Marilynn Webb (NZOM) dedicated herself to making art concerned with the relationships between land, sky and water. Extending from Te Tai Tokerau Northland, to the home she made in Ōtepoti Dunedin, Webb spent her lifetime tracing the potential of the horizon and finding strength in the embrace of the hills. This is the legacy that she leaves to the next generation: the power of connection between tangata and whenua, people and land.
Webb was raised in Ōpōtiki, a small coastal town in Te Moana-a-Toi Bay of Plenty, where her childhood was shaped by adventures in the bush, and at the beach and river. Secondary schooling led on to Teachers College, and by the early 1960s Webb had been appointed as a specialist art adviser within the Art and Craft scheme that was radically reshaping creativity in schools across Aotearoa New Zealand. Independent and bold, she travelled the world, built a close-knit community, and created a distinctive and internationally-celebrated printmaking practice.
In 1974 Webb was awarded the prestigious Frances Hodgkins Fellowship, leaving her teaching role and relocating to Ōtepoti. Her move South would prove enduring, and over the decades that followed Webb developed a life’s work that can be described as a requiem for the landscape of Aotearoa; an acknowledgement, a lament, and a tribute to the places she felt connected to and that shaped and supported her life.
Webb was a feminist, an environmentalist and an activist, and used her work to stand up for issues that were critical to her. Her images reflect on the Māori histories embedded in our landscapes, and rise up in defence of violences inflicted upon them. Her works provide many ways to think about what it means to live in Aotearoa, and how to negotiate the complex relationships that continue to shape our connections to this whenua.
Curators: Lauren Gutsell, Lucy Hammonds, Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi)