Jade Townsend

Te Ao Tua-ātea
1550 x 1040 mm
plastic, paint, custom oak bracket
Courtesy of the artist

Estimate: NZD 4,500 — 6,500

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Te Ao Tua-ātea is a sculptural work comprised of the disentanglement of the tight mechanic weaves that make up plastic material, appearing as a semblance to the non-customary weaving tradition. Through movement, Te Ao Tua-ātea expresses its agency and mauri (lifeforce, vital essence) as a work that is responsive to its environment and is attuned to the much larger conceptions of the material and immaterial worlds of Te Ao Māori. Te Ao Tua-ātea is described as a ‘veil’, the thin space between the past and the present, between the dead and the living and a line in which the spiritual and physical converge.

Artist Biography & History
with Artspace Aotearoa:

Artspace Aotearoa Artist in Resident

Jade Townsend was the Artspace Aotearoa Artist in Resident from March 2021. As part of this residency, Townsend took part in a pair of discussions facilitated by Artspace Aotearoa Assistant Curator Tyson Campbell. The first was a discussion with Debris Facility that addressed the socio-political implications of plastic and it’s link to para-corporate artistic practice. The second conversation was between Townsend and Spencer Lai that sought to find connections and points of difference in their artistic practices; both artists explore found materials and its resonance to assemblage practice, a way of referencing the body and its implications within the socio-political environments which shape an ‘attitude’.

Jade Townsend


Jade Townsend (Ngāti Kahungunu) is a visual artist and storyteller working at the intersection of her Māori, Pākehā and British heritage.
She describes it as a “non-fixed duality that ebbs and flows with contradictory cultural forces every day. My wairua connects to many seemingly disparate fields and I reinterpret that through materiality.”
She was born and raised in Whanganui before moving to Liverpool, United Kingdom where she lived as a teenager. Townsend’s exposure to a wide range of accents, dialects, regional slang, folktale and pūrākau made her aware of the limitations of translation and cultural hybridity as a completely transparent process. For Townsend, her cultural identity forms in the non-translatable, the left-over and residual aspects of herself for which there is no interpretative counterpoint in relation to the other.

Townsend recently exhibited a site-specific sculptural commission Matariki at Commercial Bay as part of Whānau Mārama a Māori group exhibition throughout the shopping precinct to celebrate the Māori New Year. Townsend has recently had a solo exhibition Panic Buy at RM Gallery, a collaborative exhibition called Ā muri atu / In the future with Emiko Sheehan at RAMP gallery in Kirikiriroa. Townsend recently brought together a group of artists in the project Hauhake and led a wānanga at Objectspace as part of the Caravannex On Tour artist in residence series. She has previously been awarded residencies at Artspace Aotearoa, Slade School of Art, London and Red Gate Gallery, Beijing. Townsend has exhibited globally across museum, gallery and concept store spaces. Jade holds a BA Hons Fine Art Painting from Manchester Metropolitan University.