Local artist takes guided walks on Wellington's fallow lands

2 June 2015

Wellington-based artist Angela Kilford is leading free guided walks to explore the history of the city streets surrounding Toi Pōneke Gallery and the Cuba Quarter.

Angela Kilford and Elijah Winter at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

Angela Kilford and Elijah Winter at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

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Participants and visitors to the gallery are asked to bring in tokens of pohutukawa to contribute to the work unfolding in the gallery space.

Kilford’s interest in pohutukawa began during her studies at Massey University. As a result of her Masters of Fine Arts (completed in 2014) she was asked to research the trees during the construction of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

“When I was asked to research the pohutukawa trees on Pukeahu, there was a desire to find a clear and true perspective of the trees' significance,” Angela says. “I found that the trees were important to many people, without having to find hard evidence of their cultural importance.”

Kilford says that most people have a story of a place and time that they can connect to this New Zealand icon. She hopes to share these memories through the objects that people bring to the gallery. Those objects will be photographed by collaborating artist Elijah Winter and displayed on the walls.

“The exhibition will grow like a tree,” Elijah says. “Trees grow, monuments crumble.”

Emerging artist and photographer Winter is working alongside Kilford for the second time. As well as acting as a walking and research companion, he will be helping to create the work within Toi Pōneke Gallery while Kilford is walking with participants.

Angela settled in Wellington in 1997 and still considers herself a new arrival.

“I still enter streets that I don’t know; I’m an explorer making new discoveries, like an archaeologist always digging.” 

Regeneration and fallowing is explored through this series of walks, identifying and unearthing layers of history within the city including areas of Te Aro that are currently being transformed. Part of the inspiration for Walk on fallow lands came from Wellington’s combined Pakeha and Māori history.

In 1839 the New Zealand Company made a promise to set aside one tenth of all land purchases in Port Nicholson for Māori. The colonial government also adopted the principle but because of high demand for town acres, the native reserves were absorbed into the growing settlement and Port Nicholson became the bustling city we know today as Wellington.

Walk on fallow lands is Kilford’s third public art event since completing her MFA at Massey University in 2014. Her practice seeks to investigate memory, memorialisation and the landscape. Recent projects demonstrate how stories contribute to the identity of people, both as individuals and as a nation. 

Walk on fallow lands opens Wednesday 24 June with daily walks at 10am leaving from Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street.

Please contact Toi Pōneke Gallery to book a place on one of ten walks. Moderate fitness recommended. If people can’t attend the walks we still welcome the contribution of pohutukawa keepsakes for the exhibition.

There will be a closing event at 5.30pm, Friday 3 July.