Kirsten Lyttle,Gundulu/Emu Kākahu huruhuru, 2018. Macramé cord (Cotton), Cotton twine, Digital prints on Fuji lustre paper. Edition 1 of 1. Photograph J Forsyth.

Kirsten Lyttle

Kirsten Lyttle is a Melbourne based multi-media artist who is of Māori descent. Her Iwi (tribe) is Waikato, tribal affiliation is Ngāti Tahinga, Tainui A Whiro. She was born in Sydney, spent her childhood in Wellington, New Zealand and grew-up in Melbourne, where she is still based.

Originally studying Philosophy (B.A Hons., La Trobe University), she left her Master of Arts (Research) in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne to pursue her passion for art. Trained as a photographer (Fine Art) at RMIT University, she completed a Fine Art Degree with Distinction in 2008. Distinctions’ continued when in 2013, she was awarded a Master of Fine Art (RMIT University). She is currently a PhD candidate at Deakin University (Burwood) currently teaching photography in the School of Community and Creative Arts, Deakin University.

She has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally including, Indonesian Contemporary Art Network Yogyakarta (Indonesia), Galleria 291 Est. Rome (Italy), and Oedipus Rex Gallery Auckland. In 2015 she went to Canada as the artist in residence as part of the RMIT/University of Lethbridge, Indigenous Residency Gushul Studio, Blairmore, Canada. Recent solo shows include, Digital Mana, shown at CCP, 2nd February - 11th March 2018, and Keteparaha/Toolkit, shown at Blak Dot Gallery, 22 March – 8 April 2018..

She has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally including, Indonesian Contemporary Art Network Yogyakarta (Indonesia), Galleria 291 Est. Rome (Italy), and Oedipus Rex Gallery Auckland. In 2015 she went to Canada as the artist in residence as part of the RMIT/University of Lethbridge, Indigenous Residency Gushul Studio, Blairmore, Canada. Recent solo shows include, Digital Mana, shown at CCP, 2nd February - 11th March 2018, and Keteparaha/Toolkit, shown at Blak Dot Gallery, 22 March – 8 April 2018.

Her arts practise explores issues of post-colonialism, identity and the expression of Maori customary art (in particular, weaving) through digital technologies, such as photography and scanning.

Lyttle will also be “working” from the exhibition space. Check program for details.

Work

Digital Manais a series of works that explore the relationship between manual labour, technology and culture by using the physical surface of the photograph as a site for making customary Māori woven artworks. The project explores issues of materiality for Pacific diaspora customary artists living outside of their ancestral homeland. How do diaspora weave in a foreign land when their traditional plants and materials are not available? Can new technology, such as digital photography, be used in customary, indigenous ways?

The title, Digital Mana, is a self-coined phrase that combines English and Te Reo Māori (the Māori Language) in order to question the compatibility of digital media (digital image capture, process and print production) and the fundamental Māori concept of Mana (meaning the importance, status and spiritual power of a person and/or an object). My vantage point is that of a Māori-Australian, photographer and weaver. Māori weaving has become an important part of my arts practice, as it is a link and connection to my Māori heritage and ancestors. Digital Mana aligns the digital photographic process and production with indigenous methods of making, not just as a conceptual representation or thematically, but to make the process of digital art making, in itself, indigenous.

For Māori, the highest prestige garment that can be woven is the Kākahu Korowai, or feather cloak. In this project, feathers are photographed, then these photographic prints are sliced and woven to make a life-sized, three-dimensional cloak, using customary, Kākahu Korowai techniques. There are two elements to this exhibition; 1) a series of photographic prints showing detailed (and close-up images of Kākahu Korowai (feather cloaks) in which all of the feathers will be from Australian native birds (such as emu) and 2) a handwoven life-sized (and wearable) photographic cloak.