We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Passchendaele, from the series The consolation of philosophy

printed 2002


Michael Parekōwhai

New Zealand

1968 –

  • Details

    printed 2002
    Media category
    Materials used
    type C photograph
    150.0 x 120.0 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased with funds provided by Egil Paulsen, Gary Langsford, Edmund Capon AM and the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2002
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Michael Parekowhai

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Michael Parekōwhai

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Michael Parekowhai was born and educated in Aotearoa New Zealand. He has been exhibiting since 1990. In 2006 his work was included in the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane; ‘High tide: currents in contemporary New Zealand and Australian art’, Poland and Lithuania; and ‘Picturing Eden’, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York.

    Parekowhai is chiefly known for his installations, but his work with photography – where he constructs the objects, photographs and frames them – is entirely logical within his practice; that is, the process is not dissimilar. ‘The consolation of philosophy’ is a series of 12 framed photographs of funerary flower arrangements constructed by the artist. The vessels are larger than life-size models of Keith Murray vases.1 Each work is named after a region in France or Belgium where the New Zealand Māori Battalion fought in the First World War. These regions are also highly evocative for an Australian audience. The work comments on nationhood and colonisation, memorialisation and tribute. In 2002 Parekowhai wrote:
    the use of flower symbolism in this work memorialises much more than just the war exploits of our glorious dead. It is also about reclaiming a pre-Pakeha Māori appreciation of the floral as an authentic badge of masculinity. Our family name ‘Pare-kowhai’ literally means ‘garland of yellow’ (kowhai of course) and was won for us by a great warrior, who was as much a conqueror in the field of love, as he was a conqueror in the field of war. In this work the ability to express a sensitivity to, and a respect for ‘flowers’, is seen as a staunch affirmation of manliness made only by true sons and grandsons of ‘real’ men.2

    1. Keith Murray was a New Zealand designer of ceramics for Wedgwood UK in the 1930s. His designs remained popular until the 1960s and still inspire a sense of nostalgia in New Zealand where they were admired and copied locally
    2. 2006, ‘Catalogue: John Leech Gallery & Gow Langsford Gallery’, Auckland p 68

    © Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

Other works by Michael Parekōwhai

See all 15 works