Looking back almost 20 years since she graduated as an art student, painter Star Gossage, who has been quietly exhibiting since then, could reflect on the gradual way her life as a painter has evolved. In a video interview for Five Maori Painters curated by Ngahiraka Mason at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki in early 2014, Gossage contemplated what she would tell young Maori women artists today.
“I would tell them not to doubt yourself – I spent too long doing that.”
Five Maori Painters was the catalyst for renewed interest in Gossage’s work and now, more confident as an artist, things are developing rapidly. In late 2014, she received a prestigious New Generation Award from the New Zealand Arts Foundation. Further accolades include sell-out shows in 2013 and 2014, which resulted in sales to public collections; a new collaborative commission for the Auckland Arts Festival 2015; representation at Niagara Galleries in Melbourne, to debut with inclusion in their Blue Chip show in May 2015; and a solo exhibition with Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland, in late 2015. Gossage will also show at the Sydney Contemporary art fair in September 2015 with Tim Melville alongside works by the Warmun artists he represents. “I’m interested in exploring the trans-Tasman Indigenous resonance between these artists,” he says. “2015 is going to be a significant year for Star.”
Gossage lives on family land at Pakiri, an hour north of Auckland, where she has recently been able to re-focus on her painting practice, capturing the spirit (wairua) of the land and her people. Travels further afield provide more inspiration – with time spent in Cadaqués, Spain and in Minyerri, an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory.
These influences have meant her work links a Maori and Indigenous sensibility with Western painting traditions – especially the dark emotional work of Spanish artists. “The poet Federico García Lorca first drew me to Spain,” she says.
“A wall of difficult dreams…” is a line of Lorca poetry and Gossage’s work shares the poet’s interest in the rawness of feeling and a sense of deep reflection, something she explores through portraiture. Her paintings capture an other-worldly, intense sensation of time stretching and slipping, with her figures transitioning, morphing, as Mason notes, “between internal and external worlds”.
This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 71, JAN – MAR 2015.
Image: Star Gossage, Pa Girls, 2013. Oil on board, 80 x 80cm. COURTESY: THE ARTIST AND TIM MELVILLE GALLERY, AUCKLAND