Monday, October 13, 2014

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki 1943-2014

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki started out in the arts as a painter studying at Ilam art school in Christchurch with Rudi Gopas. While Gopas wasn’t one to lavish compliments he did consider Jonathan to be one of his top two or three students along with Jenny Anderson and Warren Clode. As far as we know all three gave up painting (maybe not) but Jonathan never left the side of the visual arts for an instant. After training as an art historian he put his name to thoughtful texts that are essential to anyone who wants to work their way through the complex story of contemporary Maori art. 

As for Jonathan the man, he could hardly have been more affable. This turned out to be a serious advantage to him when you disagreed with his approach to collections and exhibitions at Te Papa as we did from time to time. Jonathan was a born storyteller and, as we discovered as we stood side by side at Julian Dashper’s funeral, a man with a powerful and rich singing voice. We cannot be there when Jonathan Mane-Wheoki is given his proper due at the memorial service as his colleagues and family say goodbye to him and offer their support and condolences to his partner Paul, so we do it now.

Image: Jonathan Mane-Wheoki in full flight before McCahon's 1972 painting Parihaka triptych