Bare Rock and Backbones

October 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Bare Rock and Backbones is an ongoing project in the Britomart Precinct in downtown Auckland.

Cooper and Company, who own and manage the Britomart site, and Rob Garrett Contemporary Fine Art Ltd asked artists to create works on hoardings that would shield the renovations being undertaken on the historic buildings from the public, but also provide the public with visual images that reflected the site’s history.

The exhibition title, Bare Rock and Backbones refers to the sheer determination of the people of this place in forging the fledgling city from rock and mud.

In 1840, there was sea water at Britomart. Waka (canoes) were launched from tidal mudflats, and a permanent headland stretched out into the harbour near this spot. There was a Maori pa (fort) on the headland. A colonial military fort was then built, which later became an orphanage, before being torn down as the headland itself was demolished to fill in the bay. Auckland’s first colonial settlers arrived here, lifting their belongings and their skirts or coats above the mud. From this shore they surveyed their new home, and planned new lives and a new city. The 40 years that followed their arrival was a period of massive cultural and environmental change.

Between 1865 and 1867, the former fort at Britomart was home to the city’s orphans, but not much else is known about this period. In my images and art I choose to focus on the ‘small narratives’ such as this one, which would otherwise be forgotten. The work also brought up ideas about how history is rewritten in its retelling; and by putting several seemingly disconnected scenes together I am asking the viewer to make stories from them. The figures depicted are engaged in activities and items used in the documentation of history; more specifically, the items that were used in the historical documentation of the area, such as plans, maps and diaries.

More images and information can be found on the Rob Garrett Contemporary Fine Art Website:

And on the Britomart website:

All images Copyright 2017, Aleksandra Petrovic


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