Originally trained in Kaitaia, in Maori design and carving, Charteris draws on his diverse cultural inheritance in a way that reflects the universality of forms.
As TJ McNamara states, "Charteris is able to take local materials: rock, pounamu, whalebone; and by carving, reveal the inner life of the material in a way that is linked with traditions here and from abroad."
Speaking of his work, Charteris says, "My main focus with my carving is that I create work which is unique to myself, which has qualities of the old world and the new, to attempt to express my identity of cultures in a way that reflects the diversity of forms. There are aspects of my work that go beyond interpretation; this is the realm of feeling where the material itself expresses its own life energy. A primary source for my creativity comes from the love for the materials I use. I have a deep connection with them. When there is a relationship, nature reveals her secrets and you are able to develop an understanding of things you otherwise might not be open to.
When it comes to my work there is no single meaning I can identify; the forms and patterns I use can and do have multiple layers. Then it is the viewer's journey and their navigation."
Allowing the energy of the material to speak for itself, Chris' works act as signifiers of the marriage of nature and man, of past, present and future. With power that extends beyond their apparent physicality they reach beyond the boundaries of space and time.
Chris has the rare distinction of recently having work acquired by the British Museum, London and the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge. His work is currently being exhibited at the British Museum, London.
Chris Charteris has collaborated with New Zealand artist Jeff Smith in a project designed to reflect on Kiribati, an island nation in the Pacific. Tungaru: The Kiribati Project was born from Chris' desire to reconnect with the island, touching on ancestral and cultural concerns on both a personal and global scale. The exhibition, held at the Auckland Museum, features original artworks, archival Kiribati footage and items from the museum's collection. The exhibition is now undertaking a nationwide tour.
TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER 2010