In a possible first for New Zealand, Whangārei is hosting an exhibition from one of the world's most famous, and controversial, artists - Yoko Ono.
Ono had been a well known artist well before she met Beatle John Lennon in the late 1960s, but that match up saw her vilified by many. She was unfairly accused of "breaking up the Beatles" and that vitriol has followed her around, despite continued success as an artist, performer and musician.
Now, Mend Piece, an exhibition by Ono, one of the most well-known artists of modern times, is opening at the Whangārei Art Museum on Thursday.
It is thought to be the first time that work by the iconic multimedia artist, peace activist and widow of Lennon has been shown in New Zealand. Ono was a forerunner and remains a ground-breaking force in conceptual art involving collaboration, audience participation, and social activism.
Mend Piece was first conceptualised in 1966; the work immerses the visitor in a dream-like state.
Viewers enter into an all-white space and are welcomed to take a seat at a table to reassemble fragments of ceramic coffee cups and saucers using the provided twine, tape, and glue. Akin to the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect, Mend Piece encourages the participant to transform broken fragments into an object that supersedes its own violent destruction.
The mended pieces are then displayed on shelves installed around the room. The contemplative act of mending is intended to promote reparation starting within oneself and one's community, and bridge the gap created by violence, hatred, and war.
In the words of Ono herself, "Mend with wisdom, mend with love. It will mend the earth at the same time."
Mend Piece opens at 5.30pm May 27 and runs until August 22. The 88-year-old Ono will not be at the exhibition.
■ Yoko Ono Lennon (born February 18, 1933) is a Japanese multimedia artist, singer, songwriter and peace activist. Her work also encompasses performance art, which she performs in both English and Japanese, and filmmaking.
She was married to Lennon from 1969 until his murder in 1980.
Ono grew up in Tokyo and moved to New York in 1953 to live with her family. She became involved in New York City's downtown artists scene, which included the Fluxus group.
With their performance Bed-Ins for Peace in Amsterdam and Montreal in 1969, Ono and Lennon used their honeymoon at the Hilton Amsterdam as a stage for public protests against the Vietnam War.
The feminist themes of her music have influenced musicians as diverse as the B-52s and Meredith Monk. She achieved commercial and critical acclaim in 1980 with the chart-topping album Double Fantasy, a collaboration with Lennon that was released three weeks before his murder, winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.