Based on works from the Govett-Brewster Collection the exhibition charts the way that violence is embedded within New Zealand identity and used against people different to a mono-cultural ideal. The exhibition title is borrowed from the novel by Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902) written at the eclipse of the Victorian era. A key passage of the book describes the way that the River Thames spills terrible forces into the tributaries and oceans of the world, carrying with it the British Navy and Army, and the British Merchant Navy: that surely sealed the fate of Aotearoa New Zealand. Those colonial forces, and their Victorian morals, forged the rugged identity New Zealanders have struggled with for the last 175 years; that still tries to thwart or overcome difference and is prepared to do so violently. The art works included in Our Hearts of Darkness express the power of the forces described above and also depict the fate of people who have resisted those forces here in Aotearoa New Zealand. The art works and artists in the exhibition signal — it is time for change.
Text extracted from the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery website.