Thomas Slade - 'Growing up in Silence' 2nD December 2023 to 27 January 2024, Photospace Gallery, Wellington, Aotearoa new Zealand
'Growing up in Silence' opens on Friday 1 December at 5pm and runs until 27 January, 2024. The gallery will be closed over the Christmas-New Year period but viewing by appointment will be available on some days. The gallery website will have the dates on it in due course.
'Growing up in Silence' is Thomas Slade's second solo exhibition at Photospace Gallery, after 'What Brings You Here?' in 2017. He curated the exhibition 'Four x Five x Six' in 2018.
Artist statement & bio below.
I can recall my first encounter with Māori resentment towards colonisation in 1991. I was watching a One News story about the protests at Pākaitore over local Iwi’s claim to that area of land. I can still remember the first thought that occurred to me as a 12 year old Pākehā – “ohh get over it, that was ages ago”. I’m deeply saddened and embarrassed that my culture had fostered such an ignorant and unempathetic position. As a young Pākehā who thought New Zealand was a paradise decorated with cricket pitches and rugby fields, it was my first experience that all was not well in paradise and deep-seated tensions, resulting from colonial injustices remained unresolved.
My experience is not isolated but is symbolic of how many Pākehā navigate their position in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The European control of the historical narrative has worked hard to leave out the destructive practices of colonisation in favour of the more comfortable settler narrative. This has left many of us ignorant and poorly equipped to understand what it means to be Pākehā and to navigate the relations between, and our shared history with Māori.
As I have begun a journey to better understanding my identity as a Pākehā and place in Aotearoa, New Zealand I have confronted the European systems that were established through colonisation. Anne Salmond (p. 2) recognises how these European ‘forms of order’ are so often invisible as they have become the ‘common sense’ and everyday systems we use to structure our lives. Using photography’s strength of representation, I am holding these systems up for critique to highlight how they are culturally designed to serve Pākehā. As observed by Moana Jackson “There is a Westminster constitutional system shaped to serve Pākehā interests in England and then imposed here”. For Māori, this is “a foreign construct”.
I am hoping that by representing this cultural imbalance in the control of power it can prompt other Pākehā to consider their understanding of history and place in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
- Thomas Slade, 2023
Thomas Slade - bio
I am an artist who works with the medium of photography. I am currently living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington, where I am completing a creative PhD at Massey University. My focus as an artist is on creating research-driven bodies of work and my current PhD practice examines my own Pākehā identity and the impact of colonisation in Aotearoa, New Zealand. My photography explores Pākehā culture and examines characteristics such as our rural heritage and relationship to land. I have exhibited my photography throughout New Zealand since 2013. I am an Associate Fellow of Higher Education and Learning (UKPSF Framework) and have over eight years of experience teaching photography at a tertiary level. I find this role to be a great support to my artistic practice and enjoy the opportunity to give back to current students the positive experience I have had in education. My future aims as an artist are to continue working in photography, research and education. Outside of my work I find great balance to the studio by competing in sports and getting lost in the mountains.
Photography Matters II