New Zealand National Film Unit presents Ralph Hotere (1974)
From Sam Pillsbury, this 1974 centres on Hotere’s watershed piece, the large mural commissioned for the Founders’ Theatre in Hamilton. Scattered throughout are glimpses of the private life of this elusive person. Interviews with friends and associates — poets Hone Tuwhare and Bill Manhire, art critics, officials and dealers — are intercut with fascinating shots of Hotere working (including making art by photocopying or ‘xerography’).
Ian Wedde has lauded the film a “classic”, while critic Mark Amery has called his film “the finest documentary of an artist” he’s seen.
Hotere’s mural’s horizontal lines reference the Waikato River whilst vertical lines refer to the activities in the theatre, with the circles representing the seven heavens Maori mythology. Although it wasn’t immediately accepted, indeed Geoff Fairburn the local art critic at the time compared the effect of the mural “to a trendy undertaker’s parlour”, the mural has become an integral part of the Founder’s Theatre, and a work of national significance.
Further background content and commentary on this film can be found on New Zealand On Screen’s website:
Hone Papita Raukura “Ralph” Hotere, ONZ (11 August 1931 – 24 February 2013)