Roger Mortimer

Work History

Tautuku Lodge
Tautuku Lodge (2023)
Okupu (2022/23)
Rangitoto (2022)
Through Me the Way is to the City Dolent
Through Me the Way is to the City Dolent (2023)
Wainui (2023)
Genuine Prosperity
Genuine Prosperity (2023)
Te Towaka
Te Towaka (2023)
Kenepuru (2023)

Artist Information

Medieval in appearance yet utterly contemporary, working across canvas and textile, Roger Mortimer builds time-travelling parables. Epic and political in intent, posing question after question about the morality of our times and behaviours, Mortimer develops metaphorical stories using the historical template of medieval maps, charts and tales of navigation as a core visual device. Drawing deeply on the narratives about the heaven and hell of Dante’s Divine Comedy, using medieval theology specific to Christianity and divine justice as well as the journey of the soul towards God, Mortimer places the multi-layered conversations of his work firmly into the New Zealand circumstance of today and “Pākeha cultural identity and its relationship with Te Ao Māori.”1

"How does a Pākeha male, with all the privilege and historical baggage he carries, represent belonging whilst still honouring te whenua o Aotearoa and its first people? How can he draw on the iconographies of his European ancestors without reproducing a colonizing view? These are just a few of the many hard questions Mortimer has grappled with, in an oeuvre spanning several decades.”2  

The ubiquitous role performed by mapping and exploratory shipping in the naming and claiming process of the English colonisation era is explicitly referenced. In this manner, Mortimer puts the attitudes of past behaviour and our cultural history under the microscope while ultimately creating entirely new conversations, new myths about here and now. Idiosyncratic and animated by considerable wit and painterly skills, directly commenting on the past, ultimately Mortimer is recognising and at the forefront of the dialogue about our emergent identity: part-Māori, part-Pākeha, part-Polynesian.

Roger Mortimer lives in Auckland. He has a BFA (University of Auckland) where he undertook the Te Toi Hou (Māori Arts) programme at Elam School of Fine Arts. In 2014, he was the recipient of the Paramount Wallace Art Award. He has exhibited extensively throughout New Zealand and internationally, including recently in France. In 2017 a major survey exhibition was mounted at Pātaka (Wellington) and Gus Fisher (Auckland). His work is represented in collections worldwide. An important publication (in English and French), Apocrypha: The Maps of Roger Mortimer, featuring major essays and an interview with Roger Mortimer was published in 2021.
1. Billie Lythberg, Sam Melser & Deborah Walker-Morrison, “Editor’s Note”, Apocrypha: The Maps of Roger Mortimer, Inex, Auckland, 2021, p.5
2. Ibid, p.5

Solo Exhibitions

Group Exhibitions