This Autumn, The Smith hosts an art exhibition that tells the story of shared heritage through tartan.
Woven Identities by Aotearoa New Zealand artist, Mitchell Manuel explores, celebrates, and expresses whakapapa (genealogical) and cultural connections between Māori and Scottish people. Mitch draws upon the iconic visual symbolism of tartan and of koru, a traditional organic Māori shape that resembles an unfurling fern leaf. By combining these two deep-rooted visual forms of cultural identity through digital media, Mitch’s artwork tells the story of the links between Māori people and Scots.
First inspired by his own (Māori-Scottish, Polynesian-Gaelic) mixed heritage, Mitchell began exploring Scotland and Aotearoa New Zealand’s shared experiences of colonialism through his digital art. Common themes of loss of land, cultural alienation and suppression, and subsequent resilience, perseverance, and triumph are embedded throughout their history but also woven into cultural imagery of tartan and koru. The artworks celebrate and echo the complexity, beauty, and uniqueness of identities forged from a variety of original encounters and leave their generational mark on many today.
Mitchell Manuel is a New Zealand-based artist. He was born and raised in Tāmaki-makau-rau Auckland, the Polynesian hub of Aotearoa New Zealand. Mitchell is an innovative, multi-talented creative with a background in film and television, digital art, textile design, and fashion.
This exhibition has been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.
Woven Identities is part of the City of Stirling’s year-long events celebrating the 200th anniversary of tartan. For more details see the Your Stirling website.