Artist Profile: Stuart Tume

Ngati Maru, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Moriori

Multimedia Artist

Describing my work as an extension of Maori art means I use modern materials and techniques and as a Maori artist I explore these methods to produce an art piece. I do not work in a traditional Maori art form or produce work along traditional protocol. The distinction is in the word – traditional. Art reflects a culture and is always moving forward and changing with culture.

I like to manipulate the viewers perception of foreground and background. Which part of an image sits on top of another, interests me, as people will often see the picture foreground and background differently. This is already an interesting feature of Maori design, using a photo positive and negative technique, at what point does the foreground become the background and visa versa. The question of what is real to the eye is a physical question and parallels a more intellectual question that I also ask of my work. The technique of blurring the boundaries of foreground and background is a physical or illustrated representation of the question – what is Maori art? At what point does a piece become Maori art? If I blur the Maori motifs so far to become unrecognisable does the painting stop being Maori art? In trying to understand my identity and the motivations or processes within my own work I often feel I am asking the viewer to answer the question – is this Maori art?
Stuart Tume