Trans-Tasman artist exchange builds capital bond

1 May 2019

The inaugural Canberra Wellington Indigenous Artist Exchange programme starts this month, with Canberra’s Dean Cross arriving in Wellington, and local artist Ana Iti going to Canberra on 28 May.

Image of Dean Cross from the dropping the bullshit series

Dean Cross from Dropping the Bullshit (we look like this too) series

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The programme supports a Wellington-based artist to go to Canberra for six weeks and a Canberra-based Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artist to visit Wellington for six weeks each year.

Designed to strengthen cultural connections between the two cities, as part of our Sister City Agreement initiated in 2016, Mayor Justin Lester says this is a great example of the trans-Tasman partnership.

“As our closest neighbour, it’s invaluable for both countries to have stronger cultural, economic and political ties between our two capital cities.

“Where we have so many similarities like our tourism industry, innovation and smart city initiatives, and business links, there are also big differences – and this artist exchange programme provides the opportunity to study, identify, acknowledge, and celebrate these,” adds the Mayor.

While here for six weeks, Dean Cross will explore the shared histories of Indigenous ANZAC’s.

“There is a long history of First Nation's military service in both Australia and Aotearoa,” says Dean.

“I am interested in exploring in what ways this impacts the First Nation's people and their legacies within a colonial landscape. Through this I hope to develop a deeper understanding of the similarities and differences between our two cultures,” he adds.

In May, local artist Ana Iti will visit Canberra and will base her research on the complexities and effects of learning, re-learning, and continuing to pursue indigenous languages.

"The area of research I’m entering into for this residency is around the use of language within the practice of indigenous artists. Being an ongoing learner of te reo Māori myself I’m hoping to open up conversations between artists about the complexities and difficulties that learning language brings up within our work," says Ana.

There are over 1,000 different aboriginal dialects/languages in Australia, and it’s not as accessible as Te Reo in Aotearoa. This is particularly relevant this year, as 2019 is the year of indigenous languages.