News | 26 March 2024
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New Courtenay Place exhibition reflects history of area

The new Courtenay Place light boxes exhibition Swamped by artist Turumeke Harrington addresses the complex history of whenua on the site where it sits.

Turumeke Harrington Swamped artwork along Courtenay Place with St James in background.

Swamped is an accessible installation from Te Whanganui-a-Tara based artist Harrington (Kāi Tahu, Rangitāne) and Ōtautahi Christchurch-based curator and educator Chloe Cull, which allows for engagement by children and adults.


Te Aro Pā was one of the largest pā in the Wellington area. 


The pā was included in the area covered by the New Zealand Company’s Port Nicholson deed of purchase. Harrington’s tumu (stumps) reference the survey stakes used at Te Aro Pā to mark and divide Māori land, and the removal of these by Māori residents in protest. 


The title Swamped references both the original swamplands that provided residents of Te Aro Pā with food and resources, and the overwhelming nature of modern life.


The artworks couple critical reflection with humour, encouraging passers-by to engage in a game of ‘I spy’. Hidden in each tumu is an assortment of native and introduced species.


The eight 3-metre high steel and glass LED light boxes were launched in May 2008, and are located at 77-97 Courtenay Place.


The new Light Box exhibition runs from 23 March to 3 June 2024.

Turumeke Harrington Swamped artwork along Courtenay Place with signage in close up.

Bio: Turumeke


Turumeke Harrington (Kāi Tahu, Rangitāne) is an artist based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She has shown extensively across Aotearoa, often producing generous installations and sculptural work at the intersection of art and design. Humour, play, and bright colours are frequently used to soften and subvert often tense and difficult subjects. Guided by whakapapa and practice of whanaukataka, Turumeke asks how to make and live as a good person. With experience working as an exhibition designer and technician within large institutions, Turumeke is interested in contributing to the arts being an enjoyable industry to work in.


Bio: Chloe


Chloe Cull is an Ōtautahi-based curator and educator of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi te Ruahikihiki descent. Chloe works as Pouarataki Curator Māori at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. Chloe has worked in both arts and education since moving to Ōtautahi in 2017 including as an Across-School Lead (Culturally Responsive Practice) for Ngā Mātāpuna o Ngā Pakihi Kāhui Ako, and as Arts Programme Coordinator at Te Ara Ātea in Rolleston. Currently she is Chair of the Physics Room Board of Trustees, and is a contributor to exhibitions and arts publications as a writer and editor. Previously Chloe was a Toi Māori intern at The Dowse Art Museum, and Assistant Curator at Govett Brewster Art Gallery.