- Museum number
- Object: Flock Out II
Uniface medal: pearl shell disc with design of cut-out silver.
- Production date
Diameter: 78 millimetres
- Curator's comments
David Brodie, ‘Pacific rim. Te pae o te moananui a kiwa’, The Medal, 41 (2002), pp. 79-82.
The unusual form of this medal results from research conducted by the artist, whose father was Samoan, into the art and way of life of the peoples of Polynesia and Melanesia. A common object type of the islands of Melanesia was the breast or forehead ornament in which pearl shell is overlain with a cut-out design. The aeroplane design used here – a modern equivalent of the birds and other motifs from the natural world – suggests the perennial movements of people, and the combination of materials evokes the cross-cultural exchanges that such movements bring. The artist explains: ‘As my ancestors have done, so have I, using the skills, symbols and materials available in the present in order to create work that acknowledges the past.’
The first medals were made in Italy in the fifteenth century, and the art form was taken up by other European countries in the sixteenth. Over the last two centuries medals have been made increasingly in other continents as European influence has spread. In today’s global village non-European artistic traditions are helping to redefine the medium, so that what was once a European phenomenon is now one with a relevance that is worldwide.
Summary of information provided by the artist, February 2008:
The exhibition titled ‘Pacific Rim: Te Pae o te Moananui a Kiwa’ was first shown at the McPherson Gallery in Auckland, 2001, before transferring to the London with some additions. Here it was shown at the Simmons Gallery from 11 April to 24 May 2002. The exhibition was curated by Fatu Feu’u at the request of the New Zealand Medallion Society. The accompanying catalogue (2001) was authored by Feu’u and Ellis and was published by the Society.
Two works by Hastings-McFall were shown in London. She noted that at 2008 she favoured the term ‘breastplate’ rather than ‘kapkap’ for these pieces, because ‘Kapkap relates to a certain part of the Northwest Pacific whereas breastplate is a more encompassing word which reflects my research base which is more Polynesian than Melanesian.’
She described the designs as relating to Pacific tattooing and barkcloth patterns, most notably from Samoa, where her father’s family is from. ‘Also woven into these patterns are references to the everyday, 21st century, urban environment – hence the aeroplane motif. Traditionally breastplates utilised stylised motifs from the everyday environment, such as frigate birds, foliage, sea creatures, etc. They also frequently portrayed symbols of navigation, exploration and migration – tools such as birds, fish, sun, moon and stars. In these works I am also using these symbols but in my case as an urban Pakeha (which loosely translates as ‘not Maori or tangata whenua’) I have utilised motifs from road signs - such as the airport sign apparent in this piece. I reference urban navigation using traditional aesthetics within a traditional form like the breastplate.
One of the stories that intrigued me whilst researching this series was that of cross-cultural exchange. Namely in this instance is the fact recorded by Fergus Clunie in the book ‘Yalo I Viti’ that Samoan boatbuilders brought their boat-building techniques with them to Tonga and Fiji and it was these techniques that were frequently utilised in making many of the enormous breastplates, originally used as armour during wars between these islands. Eventually the breastplates became more ceremonial, smaller and more intricate and referenced a person’s rank, wealth and status.’
(Personal communication, Hastings-McFall to Natasha McKinney, 17 February 2008)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012/13 30 Nov-7 April, Bonn, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2009 1 May-20 Sep, Victoria, Royal BC Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
- Acquisition date
- Coins and Medals
- Registration number