Artist Profile: Albert McCarthy



Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa

Mixed Media Artist

Embracing Culture.
Albert McCarthy’s work has integrity; it holds strength, mana and a spiritual presence, which shows his deep reverence for the higher powers that care for this sacred land. He uses various media to express such feelings and views, incorporating a sense of respect and honour to tipuna (ancestors), whakapapa (genealogy) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) – in amongst the vibrant colours that reflect Albert’s own personality.
The land underneath one’s feet, the forests, the mountains and one’s ancestors is all that allows one to exist
Whakapapa, meaning to place in layers, is the expression of one’s genealogy, the layers of people who have been before you, building your future. Whakapapa is also used as a metaphor for the act of creation and for the evolution of the universe and all living creatures within it.
Kaitiakitanga refers to guardianship, which talks of the Kaitiaki, the assistants of the gods, who nurture and guard this land, and the people who live in it. Kaitiakitanga is the role of these guardians.
Albert integrates aspects and ideas from Maori traditions and history into his pieces, giving them a special significance and importance to those who recognise such symbolism in Albert’s work.
Although Albert’s work contains many spiritual ideas, he assimilates various aesthetic components to create visual statements. Albert adds vibrancy to his works by using bright or multiple colours. This gives the work a sense of life and energy that co-insides with the base values that Albert aims to portray. He uses a range of materials, including canvas, sketch paper, board, timber, aluminium, steel and stone creating unique pieces or series of works.
Albert prefers to give meaning to the things he represents rather then give meaning specifically to his work. Though his work could be considered solely related to New Zealand and Maori culture, Albert likes to think of his work as universally relevant incorporating not only Maori ideologies, but Christian ideologies as well.
Albert’s art tells stories, stories of life, of Io, (God) of respect for what is sacred, of the creation of the world.