Xoë Hall

Bloodline – the return

9 April 2022 - 29 October 2024

Xoë Hall’s large-scale murals can be found enveloping buildings and public spaces across Aotearoa.  Bloodline – the return is a radical transformation of the Gallery space, filled with atua Māori, Māori ancestral figures, and kōrero tuku iho, treasured stories handed down through generations.  Honouring the cave dwellers, protectors and champions, Bloodline – the return is Hall’s celebration of her Kāi Tahutaka and mana wāhine in a dazzling array of colour and energy. 

Bloodline – the return shares Hall’s interpretation of a Kāi Tahu creation story, showing Rakinui staring longingly across at the wild beauty of Papatūānuku, separated by their children so that Te Ao Mārama, the world of light, could emerge. Papatūānuku’s former lover Takaroa appears at one side, creating a space of bounty to sustain future generations. Aoraki and his brothers rise from the whenua, while Pounamu, descendant of Takaroa, adorns the mural throughout. Bloodline includes atua that appear in many of Hall’s works, such as Mahuika the atua of fire, Hine-nui-te-pō the atua of night, death and the underworld, and Māui, the trickster (who appears as a lizard).

This kōrero represents the first stage of Bloodline, which began in 2022 as part of the exhibition Paemanu – Tauraka Toi. As Hall wrote at the time:

Bloodline acknowledges Takaroa, atua of the sea, senior bloodline of Kāi Tahu, as the first husband of Papatūānuku, earth mother. While Takaroa spent much of his time in the great expanse of the ocean, he would eventually return to find Papa intertwined with the sky father, Rakinui. Despite his efforts, their love was untouchable and Takaroa had no choice but to let it be and step aside for things to come. Another immortal heart was broken in the coming together of earth and sky. Pokoharua-te-pō - mother of wind and storms, a maiden of the night - was the first wife of Rakinui. Their son Aoraki and his brothers sailed their waka beyond the realms to ask their father to come home. But seeing that they too could not break the bounds of love, recited a karakia for safe return to the heavens ... but they made a mistake in their incantation which sealed their earthbound fate. Their waka crashed into Papatūānuku, where they eventually turned to stone. Standing tall amongst the clouds, Aoraki is the mighty mountain of Kāi Tahu.”

In 2023 Hall returned to Ōtepoti to embark on this epic extension, Bloodline – the return. Free and disruptive, Hall’s painting is powered by mana wāhine as she sets out to create spaces in purakau to think about atua wāhine and tūpuna from around this takiwā, or region. Waitaiki harnesses the strength of Pounamu to rebel against the taniwha Poutini. Hall’s rendition empowers Waitaki, who prevails both against her captor and her casting as a victim in the narrative. Across the room is Te Ruahine-mata-morari, a holder of ancient knowledge and protector of the gateway to the celestial realm. The peripheral vision of her eight spider eyes look across to the ana, or cave, on the wall opposite.  Here Tarewai rests in the sanctuary of Hereweka, melting weka fat for his wounds while his patu glints in the sun. He surrounded by tūrehu that tend to his injuries with kawakawa balm, their phosphorescence lighting the darkness.

As visitors depart from this space and into the galleries beyond, Hall pays tribute to her tūpuna, Motoitoi (b.c1822-1846), a high-ranking daughter of the Rakatira Kahuti. In Hall’s painting, she steps out from behind the dominant story of her marriage to Richard Driver, a narrative that has overshadowed her own strength and power. Motoitoi wears her own cloak, protecting herself from the forces beyond her control and creating a stronghold for her tamariki and mokopuna mō āke tonu atu.

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