In London, 1818, two young Maori chefs, Tui and Titiri, produced some of the earliest Maori naturalistic drawings, in the form of ink sketches of war canoes.
In this exhibition of new works by John Walsh, the painting The Voyagers depicts figures from Tui and Titiri's drawings as they are transported on the back of a wise Marakihau (merman) across a dark, ethereal landscape during their voyage of discovery and understanding.
In Te Raroa, the ancestor Porourangi rests in his summer retreat at Uawa, Tolaga Bay. It is evening, the mountain Hikurangi on the horizon catches the last rays and his son settles on his knee as a manaia (mythological creature) watches on.
From here the exhibition departs specific historical references and ventures into the wonderland of Walsh's beliefs and his depiction of mythology. Walsh's practise has always moved freely across such boundaries. Patupaiarehe are believed to be fairy people who live in the forest and are known to create mischief with humans. In Whenua Patupiairehe (Fairyland) and Midnight Marakihau, Patupaiarehe and Marakihau are depicted by Walsh in their own environments happily going about their business, not making mischief with humans - for a change. In The Devil, out recruiting a more international symbolism is used as the Devil is caught in the flash light of a camera while up to no good.
Explanations are not always required when viewing Walsh's work; inevitably the viewer transports himself independently into these realms of mystery and beauty or darkness and mischief.
(Adapted from an artist statement, May 2013)