I AM

I AM, 1954, oil on jute canvas, 361 x 555 mm. Collection of Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, courtesy McCahon Research and Publication Trust. 

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Artist's forgery of father's signature

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Michael Parekowhai, The Indefinite Article,  1990, wood and acrylic, 2489 x 6096 x 356 mm. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Chartwell Gift Collection, purchased with generous assistance from Jim and Mary Barr.     

Ayesha Green

Artist of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu decent

I am Juice and Xs

I do not remember McCahon. I still stumble when spelling his name. Perhaps it was breathed in high school. Our main material in class was shellac. I realise only now the scarcity of our art department; its low priority due to the low decile; a school with more important things to be worrying about. I remember shellac in large plastic bags like flakes of skin. Along with newspaper and old paint, Michael Sheppard and Robert Rauschenberg became easy artist models. Charcoal landscapes drenched in shellac turned antique. Dragon Ball Z characters became hieroglyphics. I wasn’t too surprised, although still a little hurt, when I failed Sixth Form art. Copying Rauschenberg didn’t do me any favours.

When I think of 'I AM', I think of Michael Parekowhai. I saw his work first, in some lecture after I had made the move to Auckland. I didn’t really get it. I whispered to a friend, 'what is that, "I am He"?' 'It's a McCahon reference.' Me to myself: 'a what?' I guess you have to be a certain type of person to know about McCahon.

My brother Lukas' first word was juice. He always wanted juice. My parents were forever repeating 'juice' to him after he would point and cry for it. Juice, not Mum, not dad, juice. It was super cute when he said it. The soft baby voice, his mouth not quite getting out the vowels. I remember everyone delighting in him; he made the word juice sound lovely. He was a mimic.

My other brother, Jordan, once told his primary school teacher an innocent joke that had a swear word as the punchline. Laughing we told our parents about telling Miss Jones. 'Please don’t repeat that joke in public', they asked. It was Dad who told us the joke in the first place.The language we know we learn from others.

Nana would send letters in the post but no one could read her writing. It was a tight and tidy cursive. I wanted to write cursive, it looked pretty. The only problem was I had barely learned to write at all. Instead I invented my signature. It changed again and again until I was fourteen. I had to get a bank account because I had a job at United Video blowing up balloons. I practiced it all day. This was it – for life! I hadn’t included my last name in this scribble, but right there, in the bank, after doing the perfect signature, Mum told me I had to include it. So I just wrote GREEN in capitals. Damn. That was it, for life!

On my Dad’s drivers licence he has signed it with an X. He didn’t trust the new electronic digital license machine. He didn’t want the government copying his signature. I laughed. I think of all the Xs I have seen. The treaty is dotted with them.

Maybe it’s fitting in that writing about McCahon I have ended up writing about myself. But I’m not really just myself. I am an accumulation of others: I am in a constant state of copying.

CONNECTING CULTURAL LEGACY WITH CONTEMPORARY PRACTICE

Index
Person image/svg+xml Group Copy 2 Group Copy 2 Created with Sketch.
Artwork image/svg+xml Group Copy 2 Group Copy 2 Created with Sketch.
Megan Tamati-Quennell
Black Landscape
Nick Mitzevich
Victory over Death 2
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Victory over Death 2
The Governor-General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy
Gate III
Grant Banbury
I Paul
Sir Bob Harvey
Dark Landscape
Young Old Girls (Christchurch Girls’ High)
North Otago Landscape 19
Sophie Bannan
Van Gogh - poems by John Caselberg
Linda Tyler
Urewera Triptych
Emily Karaka
Tangi. Muriwai
Robert Gardiner
Are there not twelve hours of daylight
Thomas Crow
Are there not twelve hours of daylight
Jude Rae
Victory over death 2
Brent Harris
The Family
Cora-Allan Wickliffe
15 Drawings Dec '51 to May '52
Salome Tanuvasa
Landscape
Yona Lee
Landscape theme and variations (series B)
David Kirk
Kaipara
Priscilla Pitts
Fourteen Stations of the Cross
Ruth Watson
This day a man is
Tessa Laird
Keep New Zealand Green
Nell
East window
Nicola Farquhar
Kauri trees
Hon Grant Robertson
Otago Peninsula
Jane Macknight
Untitled (North Otago Landscape)
Karen Walker
Titirangi
Wystan Curnow
The Green Plain
Philip Clarke
Necessary Protection (IHS)
Mary Kisler
A candle in a dark room
Ayesha Green
I AM
Matthew O'Reilly
Muriwai
Bettina Bradbury and Kararaina Rangihau
A poster for the Urewera no. 2
Al Keating
A Grain of wheat
Cushla Dillon
Entombment (after Titian)
Hamish Coney
Here I give thanks to Mondrian
Stephen Wainwright
As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land
Sue Gardiner
Landscape theme and variations (series A)
Robert Leonard
Numerals
Judy Darragh
Clouds 1
John Coley
AS THERE IS A CONSTANT FLOW OF LIGHT WE ARE BORN INTO THE PURE LAND
Shannon Te Ao
Ka pōraruraru ahau. I am troubled.
Helen Beaglehole
GATE III
Ralph Paine
Jump E9
Judy Millar
Muriwai: Necessary Protection
Fiona Pardington
Waterfall
C.K. Stead
All mortals are like grass
Gretchen Albrecht
As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land
Martin Edmond
Cross (1959)
Lisa Reihana
Urewera mural
Peter Simpson
Jet out to Te Reinga
Christina Barton
Gate III
Dame Jenny Gibbs
I Considered All the Acts of Oppression
Zoe Black
Ruby Bay
Jim Barr and Mary Barr
Oaia and clouds
Vivienne Stone
Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is
Kate Sylvester
Northland Panels