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Arts Festival a sumptuous treat for the eyes

Fortune by Bev Moon Opens at Waikato Museum (Photo Supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, February 24, 2023

Waikato is buzzing with art enthusiasts, artists, experts and connoisseurs, all in town for The Hamilton Art Festival.

One destination that would be a natural extension to the most awaited art event in New Zealand would be the Waikato Museum.

And the visitors will be in for a special ‘treat’ as a family feast lovingly made from knitted wool will be revealed when the exhibition ‘Fortune by Bev Moon’ opens today (Friday, 24 February 2023) at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga O Waikato.

In a media statement, Liz Cotton, Director of Museum and Arts, Waikato Museum said, “We are honoured to host Bev Moon’s carefully crafted tribute to her whanau. As well as showcasing her artistic expertise, this installation tells one of many of the key stories of the early Chinese settlers of Aotearoa New Zealand.”

She said, “This exhibition skilfully explores the obstacles and opportunities experienced by our migrant communities through the medium of craft and food, made with love.”

Bev Moon the artist (Photo Supplied)

The Concept

During Auckland’s lockdown in late 2021, Ms Moon began knitting a yum cha banquet. This was to mark what would have been her late mother Yip Sue Yen’s 90th birthday in March 2022 and to honour her grandmother Lee Choy Kee, whose knitting and cooking skills were passed down the generations.

Ms Moon said, “While others perfected sourdough, binged on TV series, or went for walks in lockdown, I experimented and did my best to source just the right yarn shades, weights and textures online to create patterns for various wrappers and shapes. I folded and stuffed them the way Mum taught me when I helped make yum cha with her, all those years ago.”

“Slowly the number of dishes grew into a feast, and I realised it was homage of sorts not only to my mother, but my grandmother as well.”

Connecting with the heritage

Born and raised in Wellington but now based in Auckland, Ms Moon a Taishanese who first arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand in the 1880s in search of gold and new opportunities. Due to New Zealand’s discriminatory ‘poll tax’ immigration policy at the time, their wives had to remain in China. Ms Moon’s mother and grandmother were two of only 500 Chinese women and children eventually granted temporary refuge by the New Zealand government to escape the Japanese invasion in World War II.

Her professional life has been spent immersed in other people’s histories and stories. As a Collections Manager and Touring Exhibitions Manager, she has worked with New Zealand’s taonga and art at Auckland Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, Te Papa Tongarewa, The Dowse Art Museum, City Gallery Wellington and Adam Art Gallery.

On tour with the assistance of the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust, Fortune is on display at Waikato Museum from 24 February to 2 July 2023 and entry is free.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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