New Zealand, 1947–
acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 1460 x 1140 mm
Collection of The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū: gifted by the artist in 2016. ACC: 1363
This painting refers to the Māori name for The Suter Art Gallery: Te Aratoi o Whakatū. Ara means pathway. Toi has many meanings, but in this context it relates to art and knowledge. Te Aratoi o Whakatū: the pathway to art in Nelson.
In Māori mythology, the tūī is the guardian of the doorway to the twelfth heaven, Pūmotomoto, the source of esoteric knowledge. Here, the tūī plunges through Te Pō (the eternal darkness) bringing higher knowledge to this world and signalling the dawn of Te Ao Mārama (the world of light).
Robin Slow’s work combines abstract Māori art forms with realistic imagery, typically of the natural environment, and he responds to mythological stories, historical events and personal experiences in a layered and poetic manner.