First exhibited in 2005
An imagined meeting between ancient Greeks and
the Maori of New Zealand brought about by the arrival
of the Endeavour in the late eighteenth century.
Excerpts from Anna Smith's essay 'Ode on a South Seas Urn' from the catalogue of 'The Odyssey of Captain Cook' (2005):
'What do the Ancient Greeks have in common with the South Seas? A lot, if a certain master printmaker from Christchurch has anything to do with it. Artist Marian Maguire has been working on bringing the Greeks to New Zealand for a number of years now. Inspired by the designs of classical artefacts: urns, bowls and jugs, Maguire has reworked the meeting of English colonisers and Maori through the medium of classical shapes and figures. In this new show, the collision of three cultures, not two, takes the viewer by surprise. The Odyssey of Captain Cook takes radical liberties with the history of this country, for we discover that Pakeha and Maori have now been joined by chiefs from the heavens (Arikirangi): Achilles, Athena, and boatloads of Greek soldiers. Using the voyages of Captain Cook as the pretext, Maguire explores how a nation remembers and represents its history. By implication, she also explores what a nation leaves out when it remembers; and how its vision is always skewed in favour of one race or the other. Every time we seek to understand these engravings and lithographs as the story of two nations, or two races, the artist presents a third perspective: a sleight of hand which, in a climate that favours biculturalism, makes for troubled viewing indeed.
... This is the work of a smart artist who finds that her head as well as her hands are good to think with. For there is definitely something unthinkable, undesirable even, in juxtaposing three alien worlds, when in post-colonial New Zealand we have been so accustomed to living with the collision of two. The closest one could come to putting the complex and fluid gestures embodied in this exhibition into words, is by suggesting that its ever-changing, three sided quality marks the artist’s commitment to staging a completely new myth.'
"When we had left the island astern and no other land, or anything but sky and water, was to be seen, Zeus brought a sombre cloud to rest above the hollow ship so that the sea was darkened by its shadow."
(The Odyssey, Book 12,401-402)
For information about this series CLICK HERE