John Bevan Ford

John Bevan Ford

Dates: 01 Aug 2008 - 01 Dec 2009

He wairua kore, te Po te Ao
He wehenga rua, ka awatea;
Ka puta, ko Hauora
Ko te ao whakatupu, ka puawai
Kua tau, kua tau…

Without spirit, Darkness: Light
Dawning from Their separation
Emerged the Breath of Life
As the world, growing, blossomed
And was realised…

John Bevan Ford (1930-2005) was one of our finest contemporary Maori artists. Alongside peers Ralph Hotere, Clive Arlidge, Fred Graham, Paratene Matchitt and others, he was a pioneer of the contemporary Maori arts movement. He is acknowledged for his prolific and outstanding contribution to art and education both in New Zealand and abroad.

John believed that the land came first, as a life force beyond humans, that land was mana imbued by spirituality that connected us with the ‘whole’. Throughout his lifetime he strove to make connections through his work, with the peoples and cultures of Te Moananui-a-Kiwa, and travelling further afield to China, Europe, and Canada. Always mindful of the strengths of his Maori heritage, he drew inspiration from the customary arts of raranga, taniko, whakairo, kowhaiwhai and korowai. John was also well known as an eloquent and colourful speaker who shared his knowledge of Maori culture with pride and challenge.

John’s beautiful and skillful compositions pull at the threads of the heart to remind us of our connections to culture, histories and art making. His korowai are suspended within the space of Ranginui, like symbols of status and mana protecting the mana of the land, Papatuanuku, and travel with his sea vessels, guiding them into harbours and bays. His taniko borders both contain and ground vigorous energies, and turn his compositions into cloaks. His works are full of cosmological narratives that acknowledge his Maori heritage. John writes of the sea as the force that brought us together and the force that keeps us apart.

The Exhibition

He Aho Tangata is being developed by Te Manawa Museums Trust and curated by arts lecturer and fellow artist Kura Te Waru Rewiri. This major retrospective will open in April through July 2008 and draw extensively from collections from throughout the country.

The exhibition will celebrate his art practice from the 1960’s through to 2005, including;

1966-1970’s – early acrylic works
Early 1980’s – early cloak works; Te Hono- the Connections
late 1980’s – He Pihi – The Shoots
late 1980’s – Manawatu works
1991 – Te Hono ki Zeelandia Nova – The Connections with the Netherlands
1992-1994 – Te Tohunga Waka – The Navigator series
1996-2000 – Pacific Rim series
1999 – Taniko border works
1998 – series of “bird” works
2001-2005 – South Island works

Further information is available from Exhibition Services if required. Please note that the exhibition opens in April next year so is still being developed and finalized. Additional information will be posted on this website as details become available.

The Tour

In order to make the exhibition accessible to a wide variety of venues, a selection of core works from the Te Manawa exhibition will be made available for a national tour from Aug 08 through Dec 2009. The tour will consist of 40-50 paintings, works on paper, sculpture, ephemera, and an AV component drawn from past documentary and other archive footage. The show will be accompanied by a publication, details of which will be announced shortly.

A fee of around $6,500+gst will include freight and marine transit insurance. See ‘package on offer’ for further details.

The touring show will demand approximately 70 running metres.