Join us for an artist talk with Bronte Perry, in conversation with Sophie Davis on the closing day of the exhibition and my heart is soft at Enjoy.
and my heart is soft is an installation of sculpture and weaving by Ange and Bronte Perry. As mother and child with Pākeha, Māori and Croatian heritage, their collaboration confronts the ideas of unknowing and re-learning, exploring gaps and incommensurabilities in cultural knowledge and whakapapa through an open-ended, materially-driven dialogue.
For this exhibition, Bronte has worked predominantly with text and timber, sourcing large cross sections of Pohutukawa and swamp Kauri and engraving passages of text into the wood. Based on English and Te Reo Māori translations of religious psalms from the Croatian Bible Novi Zavjet i Psalmi, the texts reveal the uncertainty of translated language as different poetic meanings are used to describe experiences of loss and mourning. For instance, the notion of being ‘broken hearted’ or ‘soft hearted’ referred to in these translations creates room for vastly different interpretations.
While Pohutukawa is often recognised its strength and beauty, swamp Kauri, large forests of felled trees preserved underground in the swamps of Northland, is a particularly charged material—an ancient tāonga, a scientific resource committing environmental changes in Aotearoa to carbon, and a precious commodity as one of the world’s most expensive timbers. It also has particular significance within the artists’ family history. As Bronte notes, the Kauri “gumfields brought my tupuna together, Māori, Croatian, Pākehā…they earned a living stripping and tearing at the earth with great ferocity to harvest the gum beneath.”