Star Gossage (1973, Ngāti Wai / Ngāti Ruanui) lives and paints on a headland above Pākiri beach, north east of Auckland. Nestled between ocean and river, the artist’s whare is located on ancestral land – a place rich in history and mythology – a landscape that Gossage returns to again and again as both site and subject of her work.
There is an immediacy and intimacy inherent in the application of paint and bare unfinished edges of Gossage's paintings, the artist sometimes allowing for glimpses of the raw canvas beneath. Her ethereal portraits of unknown appear as tūpuna or ancestors, their individual identities indefinite. Connected to the whenua, whānau, and wairua of this place, they are at once grounded and otherworldly; their features blurry and indistinct. These women emerge out of the landscape, their forms rendered from a mix of local clay, with chalk pastels, conte, and oil.
Gossage has cited Australian painters Arthur Boyd and Sydney Nolan as early influences in regards to their approach to painting myths and allegories of the land and bush. The fragmentary nature of Gossage’s work lends her paintings a dreamlike quality, where the images are not inert but instead constantly shifting. With Gossage’s own background in film and video, it’s tempting to read these interconnected images as something akin to a series of film stills. Yet narrative remains elusive, the artist more interested in evoking a particular emotional or psychological state than presenting a fixed set of ideas or concepts.