Replacing disgraced colonial monuments to power with unmonumental stacks of imperfect polyhedrons which teeter on the edge of collapse.
There were few monuments erected in NZ before the wars of the 20th century. Memorials to soldiers and military leaders were seen to provide an example to the younger generation and raise awareness of our obligations to the Empire. Louise McRae calls to mind one such monument in Matakana: a statue of King George V which is periodically beheaded by drunken youths. McRae prefers it headless. There is always a reaction by those decrying a lack of respect. And yet our civic monuments rarely relate to the communities they now inhabit, instead serving as reminders of a history of colonial oppression that induces shame.
In contrast, a church was built in Ohaeawai, Northland in 1870 by local Maori as a symbol of peace and a tribute to Pakeha who had died in battle on the site in 1845.
Grey Lynn is named for Governor Grey, an advocate of 'civilising the native people'. He held Mana with many Maori and gave the appearance of respecting the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, all the while negotiating the sale of millions of hectares of land that he on-sold to settlers at a great profit to the crown.
It is timely for McRae to speak her point of view: what should her community celebrate? What does it value now?
McRae has been making stacks of imperfect polyhedrons in columns or groups. She has reduced forms to the basics: cubes, spheres, cones. These are chain sawed from wood or formed from aluminium, brass sheet and concrete. Some are painted, others rasped or charred with a flame; the natural characteristics of the materials remain evident. Together they form singularly unmonumental monuments which teeter on the edge of collapse. These works serve as symbols for the tipping points for our social, political, financial and environmental structures which are in similarly precarious states. But McRae recognises that moment of collapse as the moment of release at which things open up again: although tough, it is where opportunity lies.