Souvenir scarf, 2003
Natalie Robertson (Ngati Porou/Clan Donnachaidh) is a photomedia artist and educator. Her work has been exhibited in public institutions throughout Australasia and internationally over the past decade. Descended from the Ngati Porou iwi or tribe, Robertson is a trustee and acts as a kaitiaki (guardian) of Maori land blocks on the East Coast of New Zealand, a role she has inherited from her grandfather, David Hughes. Robertson’s work is held in many significant public collections including the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the Auckland City Art Gallery. She is Programme Co-ordinator of Maori Art and Design in the Faculty of Maori Development, Te Ara Poutama and the School of Art and Design at Auckland University of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, teaching on the Master of Arts (Visual) in the School of Art and Design.
“For this series, I sourced a number of vintage satin and polyester scarves that depict maps of New Zealand, cultural motifs, artifacts, flora and fauna, from op-shops, Mum’s cupboard, aunties and discerning collectors of kitsch. My aim was to transform them from decorative yet functional items into framed photographic images, therefore reconfiguring these familiar items beyond their domestic and sartorial applications. The photographs restore the scarves to a position of artifact and reinforce the shonky mapping characteristics. Dating from mid-20th century they recall journeys and holiday destinations or the travels of relatives who have sent these easily-transported souvenirs. For me, the scarves present a conundrum - that of blatant cultural appropriation and insensitivities, coupled with luscious kitschness.” - Natalie Robertson, 2006.