19 March - 3 July


Tungaru: the Kiribati Project is a collaboration between two artists - Chris Charteris and Jeff Smith.


Charteris, Smith and their families travelled to Kiribati in July 2012 to spend time with Charteris’s extended family and to work on this collaborative project, which celebrates the culture of Kiribati.


Tungaru: the Kiribati Project features contemporary works of sculpture and applied art by Chris Charteris created with materials and techniques inspired by the traditions of his Kiribati heritage. His most impressive work in this exhibition is Te Ma, a curving palisade construction of 8,000 Ringed Venus shells, collected by Charteris from his local beach in the Coromandel. Charteris created Te Ma after discovering monumental heart-shaped coral fish traps built in lagoons by communities in Kiribati.


Film maker and animator, Jeff Smith, documented their time in Kiribati and has created digital works with interactive elements. Visitors can engage with his video works through movement and animate augmented photographs by downloading an application onto their smartphones.


In Te tia Buaka ni Kiribati, Smith has animated Charteris’s uncle Baia and friend Unnang, wearing traditional Kiribati suits of armour. When visitors move in front of the projected images, the warriors mimic their actions.


The exhibition also features edited documentary film footage shot by ethnologist Gerd Koch in 1963-64, giving visitors greater insight into traditional Kiribati culture.


Tungaru: The Kiribati Project connects us with the past and brings ancient cultural traditions into the present through digital technology. It explores the relationships between art and life, art and science, past and future, and local and global experience. While visitors will appreciate the fine craftsmanship of individual works in the exhibition, as a whole this body of works invokes questions - encouraging us to think about change and adaptation from personal, cultural, technological and environmental perspectives.