- PULE, John - Creator
- Accession No.
- Date Created
- Dimensions A
246.4 x 225.7cm (unstretched)
A: (unstretched) 246,4 x 225,7 cm
- Media Category
- Secondary Media Category
Oil on canvas
- Place Created
- Credit Line
Gift of the artist 2005
See also Acc. no. 2004.129 'Additional information'.
For information on Niuean hiapo see Acc. no. 2005.204a-c 'Additional information'.
In 1991 John Pule returned to Niue for the first time as an adult, to his home village of Liku. This experience helped renew his involvement in Niuean culture, expressed in his collection and study of hiapo, or traditional barkcloths made from the bark of breadfruit or mulberry trees. He also undertook personal study on Niue's history and mythology, to deepen his understanding of his origins. In 2005 he co-authored a book with noted anthropologist Nicholas Thomas, entitled Hiapo: Past and present in Niuean barkcloth, which reveals his expertise in, and fascination for, this area.
In works such as Untitled (1998) Pule uses the gridded form of the traditional hiapo cloth to provide a semi-narrative structure for his images, which derive from both traditional imagery and the artist's own imagination. In many of his early works, Pule used the traditional subdued colours black, white and ochre, with subtle shades, like the green in this work. The canvas of Untitled (1998) is divided into a grid of 12 squares, each containing either a circular form or drawings of plants, animals and humans with geometric motifs.
In hiapo, images often referred to Niuean mythology, genealogy, and oral history, encompassing local pathways and landmarks such as trees and waterholes. The repeated circle form apparent in Untitled was specific to Niuean barkcloth, and evokes themes of harmony and balance. It has been described by Pule as 'containing all the substances necessary to survive.'(1) Frequently recurring motifs in Pule’s work are the shark, sea birds, the moon, people, and the Christian cross or church. These motifs symbolize Pule’s response to the colonization of the Pacific and to issues of displacement and return.
1. Pule, John. Quoted in Dunn, Michael. Contemporary painting in New Zealand. Craftsman House, Roseville East, 1996, p.132.
Copyright and sharing information
© John Pule
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