Nigel Borell

Whakawhitinga (2023)
New Day Clouds
Whakarongo uru – Listen to the setting sun (2023)
Talking to the Moon (2023)

Watercolour, acrylic, silk brocade, cotton thread and paper, custom framed with UltraVue anti-reflective glass.

Nigel Borell (b. 1973) is an artist, curator, writer and Māori arts advocate.  He has a diverse painting practice that spans both customary and contemporary Māori art. The artists formative training began by working on the kōwhaiwhai and mural painting on three community meeting house projects under tohunga whakairo Pakariki Harrison (from 1995-2000) followed by three more meeting house projects across Aotearoa New Zealand. In addition, Borell gained a Bachelor of Māori Visual Art (Hons) from Massey University (2000) and a Master of Fine Art (Hons) from Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland (2002). 

His painting practice incorporates fabric and textile considerations to present works that amalgamate customary kōwhaiwhai and Māori representational language with an abstract painting sensibility, which the artist inclusively describes as ‘contemporary Māori art’.

Borell’s work can be found in public and private collections in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia and Tahiti. The Chartwell Trust Collection- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland Council Art Collection and The Massey University Art Collection.

His work has featured in significant exhibition projects such as Taiāwhio: Continuity and Change, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington (2002), Biennale d’art Contemporain – Noumea Biennale, New Caledonia (2000), TOI OHO XX – 20 Years of Māori Visual Art, Te Manawa Art Gallery, Palmertson North (2015) and Nine Māori Painters, Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland (2021).  Selected solo exhibitions include: Kua whteurangi koe, you have now become a star in the nights sky, Oxford Art Gallery, Christchurch (2021), Karanga Hokianga, Village Arts Gallery, Kohukohu (2017), Hawaiki, Tauranga Art Gallery (2010) and Pirirakau: Bush Beautiful, The Lane Gallery, Auckland (2006).

Borell’s curatorial practice is extensive and includes the roles; Associate Curator Māori Art at Auckland War Memorial Museum in 2013 and Curator Māori Art at Auckland Art Gallery from 2015-2020. In 2020 he curated ‘Toi Tū Toi Ora’, the Auckland Art Gallery’s largest exhibition of Māori art and the most attended exhibition since 1989, with 191,000 visitors over its four-month run.  Other curatorial projects include The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand, that toured to deYoung Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco in 2017 and co-curator with Zara Stanhope Moa Hunter Fashions by Areta Wilkinson for The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane in 2018.

Currently Borell is Curator Taonga Māori with the Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira.  In 2021 he received the New Zealand Art Foundation’s inaugural He Momo – A Moment In Time Award for curating Toi Tū Toi Ora and in 2022 was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori art.