Driving Creek Art Gallery

Is closed until further notice

Details of our last Exhibition:



Pacific Island Art, Artifacts, and Ceramics from the Barry Brickell Collection and Others

The title of the exhibition is a combination of two words from two different but closely related cultures; both are from the same Polynesian group of languages: one language being Samoan, Oloa meaning Treasure, and the other Maori, Ora meaning Life.

The key intent of the exhibition is to erase the barriers that are so often drawn between Maori and other Pacific Island art, culture and identities.

The fact that New Zealand does not fit within the classical Eurocentric notion of a Pacific Island, made popular by the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s post war film and stage production “South Pacific”, with its palm trees, coral atolls and hula girls, is all the more reason for OLOA ORA to be presented at this stage of our cultural evolution.

The exhibition is drawn primarily from the large public/private collection of Coromandel’s unique and much loved identity Barry Brickell.

OLOA ORA brings together approximately 100 diverse art works. It is primarily an assemblage of paintings, photographs, prints and artifacts including, tapa cloth, fine mats and Fijian pottery all mixed in with contemporary art and ceramics from Barry Brickell’s extensive collection and other material drawn in from selected private collections and other artists.

In OLOA ORA we encounter some cultural juxtaposition with work by Buck Nin sitting comfortably with Samoan tapa cloth, and a Ralph Hotere painting, with pottery from Vanuatu.

A little known fact is that the young Barry Brickell was profoundly inspired and directly influenced by the tribal art collections he discovered in the Auckland War Memorial Museum. This is where he made contact with the late Trevor Bayliss and Terence Barrow, who were both significant museum professionals of the day. Theo Schoon was another important mentor who introduced Barry to aspects of “primitivism” in the arts.

One of the exhibition’s most revealing features is to see early Barry Brickell artwork that brings together tribal art and steam locomotives from the late 1950’s.

Some of the key artists represented in this exhibition include:

John Bevan-Ford
Barry Brickell
Shane Cotton
Fatu Feu’u
Tony Fomison
Fred Graham
Amorangi Hikuroa
Manos Nathan
John Pule
Bay Riddell
Yvonne Rust
Colleen Waiata-Urlich

Just to mention a few.

The Pacific Ocean is like a giant jigsaw puzzle that covers about one third of the globe. We here in Aotearoa, New Zealand, are like a couple of pieces of that jigsaw that sits snuggly in to complete the whole. We should not be in a state of denial with a “them and us” mentality. We are just beginning to learn to celebrate the fact that we are an integral part of the Pacific (Oceania).

With those old cultural and mental barriers broken down, OLOA ORA reinforces the notion that although we are many we sail in the one canoe (waka) here in Oceania.