Star Gossage (Ngati Wai / Ngati Ruanui) lives and works, surrounded by whanau, on ancestral land at Pakiri, north of Auckland. She studied film and drama in Otago, making her acting debut in Barry Barclay’s The Feathers of Peace in 2000, but realised after showing 3 paintings in a 2001 exhibition at Auckland’s OedipusRex Gallery that painting would be her career.
Gossage takes her inspiration from the coastal landscape of rural Pakiri, mixing local clay and ochres with oil paints to create the earthy muted colours that have become one of her signatures. Her emotionally intense paintings often feature dream-like tupuna figures who seem imbued, as Mark Amery writes, “with collected memory and ancestry … there’s no innocence in the eyes of figures; they feel soaked in both love and sadness. The pupils of the eyes bore through you as if demanding that their stories be remembered.”
Although Gossage has exhibited regularly throughout New Zealand and overseas, it was the ground-breaking and critically acclaimed Five Maori Painters exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, curated by Ngahiraka Mason, that cemented her significance as one of the most important Maori artists of her generation.
Artist Portrait: Tim Melville