The Vernacular Lounge, based at The Depot, is hosting a tribute to Ralph Hotere, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant and well-loved artists. The tribute comprises a geographical biography of Ralph’s life in New Zealand, screenings of the documentary on Ralph, made by Merata Mita and a small number of publications and articles about the exhibition ‘Hotere Country’, held in the Hokianga, the area where Ralph was born and grew up.
In 2009 The Depot worked with Village Arts Gallery in Kohukohu, Hokianga, to organise an exhibition based on a significant artwork by Ralph Hotere. The exhibition was named ‘Hotere Country’ and the work exhibited was ‘Song of Solomon’, a painting in 14 panels based on the Gulf War of 1991. The exhibition was both an opportunity to acknowledge Ralph in the place of his birth and for Hokianga artists to pay tribute to him by referencing his work in their subject matter. Depot staff and friends accompanied to Village Arts this magnificent painting, an embodiment of some of Ralph’s essential concerns; his love of the land and his abhorrence of war. As he returns to Mitimiti, we honour the gift of Ralph Hotere’s life to the people of this country, and we recognise also that the work we were privileged to take to the Hokianga resonates with his final journey, as it too represented ‘‘a journey through light and dark, both towards and away from suffering.” Gregory O’Brien