“Mud Prayer” Annual 2

Star Gossage was born in 1973.

Star Gossage was born in 1973. Her ancestors are French, English, Portuguese, and Māori (Ngāti Manuhiri, Ngātiwai, Ngāti Ruanui).

She studied at Otago Polytechnic School of Art where, as well as painting, she learnt about theatre, film-making, poetry, and sculpture.

Star’s family’s ancestral land is at Pakiri Beach, overlooking Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) north of Auckland. It is her turangawaewae; her physical, emotional, and spiritual home, and her whānau have lived there for hundreds of years. The colours Star uses in her paintings are the colours of the earth, sea, and sky, and she often mixes her paints with clay and dirt to get the textures that she wants.

Star says that when she makes paintings, she wants the people in them to be “more like spirits than humans. I want the essence of things rather than straight paintings of people.” And the Wellington art writer Mark Amery thinks that the people in Star’s paintings are like “ghosts”. He says they “feel soaked in both love and sadness, like weathered posts standing tall. The pupils of the eyes bore through you, as if demanding that their stories be remembered.”

Star’s paintings sometimes feel like paintings from Europe, but she says that really it’s Māori knowledge that she shows in her work. “I believe in Māori ways, the ways I suppose I’ve been taught by my own family, and I believe you don’t have to explain you’re Māori, you just are. Whatever you do it comes out anyway.”

Star’s paintings can be found in in private collections in New Zealand and overseas as well as at Auckland Art Gallery, Te Papa Tongarewa (Wellington), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the James Wallace Arts Trust, and the University of Auckland. You can also see her paintings at Tim Melville Gallery in Auckland.

Represented by Tim Melville Gallery

VIDEO Five Māori artists: Star Gossage