Cath Cocker – A Centre for the Subatomic Particles – Thursday 16 May – Saturday 8 June


Please join us to celebrate the opening of A Centre for the Subatomic Particles, a new collection of work by mixed media artist Cath Cocker which explores colonial legacies, the ties we maintain to time, space and mortality, and the relationship we in Aotearoa have to our native birds.


The installation Dreamer, Dreaming, evokes stained glass while it’s title pays homage to Aotearoa’s ‘Mother of Blues’, Mahia Blackmore, whose work as a singer and bandleader spanned rhythm and blues, psychedelic funk, notably while fronting the Meg and Fones with whom Little Tui was recorded in 1986.

Little tui
In the forest free
Don’t you ever fade away
Dreamer dreaming
Dream a life away

Enclosed by a cedar frame, light passes through coloured acrylic panels inspired by the spectrographic renderings of acoustic biologist Dr. Samuel David Hills. Between these panels, strips of zinc note the arrhythmic pauses in song. Employing zinc, this work alludes to the decorative style of Pressed Tin ceilings – a style of ceiling decoration common in colonial-era houses of the 19th and 20th centuries – where it was often used as a corrosion resistant alternative for tin (with the Tin Pressed style itself being developed as a more affordable alternative to plaster moulding).

An unceasing pendulum swings between dimensions. In It’s Hard to Fathom the Unfathomable, This Mortal Coil Pīwakawaka fountains sit between the light and the darkness just as the small bird flits between the realms of life and death. Determining that there is a difference is perhaps the biggest illusion we face. That thought is the beginning is uncertain; that music as our last memory is a definite signal of our physical demise and inevitable end. Time, a constant in the background, dripping, the weight of it inferred by placement, by the space it possesses.


Opens: Thursday 16 May, 5.30pm, with refreshments by Liberty Breweries
Hours: 12 – 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday
Closes: Saturday 8 June


Artist bio:
Cath Cocker is a mixed media artist whose work seeks to elicit strong feelings or emotion from the viewer. In her explorations of points of conflict between cultures and peoples, Cocker’s practice is weighted in narratives that stem from the English colonisation of the Pacific, with these underlying concepts often influencing their selection of use of materials such as bronze, corrugated iron alongside sound and light.


The artist would also like to acknowledge Mahia Blackmore for writing such a beautiful song and Dr. Samuel David Hills for allowing access to his research which informed the development of Dreamer Dreaming, the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai for their bird calls online, and AviaNZ for their spectrogram.