Indigenous | Japan

First New Zealander to participate in a world-famous art festival in Japan

Māori artist Sarah Hudson (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Pūkeko) will head to Japan on an art residency and joining an arts festival later this year.

The Setouchi Triennale runs every three years aiming to revitalise the Seto Inland Sea area from environmental degradation and depopulation.

The Whakatāne resident’s artworks explore whakapapa, tino rangatiratanga and whenua through painting, performance, video and sculpture.

Hudson was recently in Venice with Mataaoho Collective.

Hudson is the first New Zealander and wāhine Māori to be given this opportunity and will head there in September for a month.

She said she was grateful to be selected.

“Last month I popped over for a week to meet the people there, see where I’m going to be going and just start to get my ideas flowing for how this project might take shape.”

She will be based on Naoshima Island in the Seto Inland Sea area known for contemporary art and architecture.

“So it’s based on a series of islands in the Seto inland sea, and being with those islands honestly made me mokemoke (lonely) for my own islands.”

Sarah has been in Japan scoping a site for her residency and came across locals fixing their nets on Megijima Island. Photo / Supplied.

Hudson said it would be interesting to see how her art practice would take shape abroad after spending time on some of Japan‘s islands.

“Aotearoa is filled with islands that our tupuna used to occupy. And maybe we don’t occupy now, so it just got me thinking about islands that I whakapapa to.

“And how do we get access and reconnect with those places that we might not have access to?”

For the past three years, she has been involved in teaching Māori how to use materials from the environment for art.

As part of a research group called Raro Research Collective, it focuses on promoting mātauranga Māori through art.

“Really keen to do a workshop over in the Setouchi area. Hopefully working with the education programme to hang out with kids and see what they know about their whenua.”

Her trip has been supported by the McCahon House Trust. The trust runs the late Colin McCahon’s home for artists’ residencies.

The McCahon House Trust and the Fukutake family have been exploring the possibility of a New Zealand artist residency in Japan supported by Asia New Zealand Foundation.