Art & creativity, Things to do  |  9 Mar 2021

Discover what five families with a range of cultural and ancestral connections feel about place and belonging in Aotearoa through a new exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

Local artist Olivia Webb has worked with the families with ties to Kiribati, Zambia, Samoa, the Philippines, England and the Netherlands to create their own songs about living in New Zealand, culiminating in the exhibition, Anthems of Belonging.

Music is integral to each family’s culture. In life-sized video projections, they share their anthems from their family lounge, emphasising the importance of using one’s voice.

Webb, whose Christchurch-based family is part of the exhibition, says the anthems reflect the personal values, concerns and aspirations of all involved.

“These songs have different vocal qualities, musical structures and lyrics, often including ideas that do not feature in New Zealand’s current national anthem, God Defend New Zealand – a musical setting of a poem written by Irish-born Thomas Bracken in the 1870s,” she says.

Gallery Lead Curator Felicity Milburn says the new exhibition “illustrates the diversity of contemporary New Zealand culture, and shows how varied cultural backgrounds and traditions can shape the experience of living and belonging here”.

“The face of Aotearoa is constantly changing – for the benefit of us all, I think – and this exhibition is a perfect illustration of that,” she says.

Anthems of Belonging opens on Saturday, 13 March.

Top: Olivia Webb Anthems of Belonging – Ana utu Tiibin (the Tiibin family) 2019. Five-channel 4K/HD digital video (still). Courtesy of the artist.

Olivia Webb Anthems of Belonging – The Chembo family 2019. Five-channel 4K/HD digital video (still). Courtesy of the artist.