Banana playing a blue accordion: a Muka Youth Print

By Rebecca Nuttall, intern

“Banana playing a blue accordion.”

What?

My name is Rebecca Nuttall. I’ve been an intern at Te Papa and I’m describing this print to you. You’re going to love it.

That’s not true. You may hate it. But how would you know? I don’t think you can fully appreciate this print by a standard text description alone. You wouldn’t see the frustration on this little banana’s face as it’s jamming out. Or maybe it’s exasperation? Imagine if I couldn’t show you. Imagine if you’d go your entire life never knowing the extent of this banana’s emotions.

Rodney Greenblat, Untitled, 1998, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/002/0080)

Rodney Greenblat, Untitled, 1998, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/002/0080)

This Rodney Greenblat work is one of many interesting and wonderful prints from the Muka Studio that Te Papa acquired in 2010. The collection includes printer’s proofs of every lithograph ever made in the printing workshop which opened in 1984. Sadly it made its last print in 2011, but you can still visit the Muka Gallery in Ponsonby to check out their extensive collection.

But let’s say you don’t have time for that. Well that’s where I, and the many volunteers that preceded me, come in. I’m a Masters student of the Museum and Heritage Studies programme at Victoria University. For the past five weeks, I’ve been poking my nose around Te Papa, faking it until I hope to one day actually make it. I’ve been negotiating copyright licences with the artists of the Muka Youth Prints so that you can access their works online.

Not to get copyrighteous or anything, but this is a pretty significant part of the process. And my wonderful supervisor, Victoria Leachman, can attest to this. Lucky for me, she knows her stuff, and so carrying out this placement has been a breeze. It’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience thanks to Victoria and all of the staff at Te Papa who have given their time to us interns. In terms of my project, it’s also been a great opportunity. I got to contact artists from all around the world and many of them were delighted to know their works are now sitting in Te Papa.

So what are the Muka Youth Prints? Artists from New Zealand and around the world were invited to create small original lithographs that toured the country. Visitors to the show were allowed to buy as many as three prints. However, there was a catch. This event was exclusive, only 5-18 year olds were allowed in. And artist’s names were hidden, so even if you tried really hard, you probably wouldn’t get that Hotere you always wanted. It was a great idea, and the result is an amazing collection of weird and wacky prints that you can now see through Te Papa’s Collections Online.

The thing I love about this project, is thinking about the prints that would attract the different kinds of kids.

You like pretty things? This might appeal.

Megan Campbell, Fern, 2004, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/001/0168)

Megan Campbell, Fern, 2004, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/001/0168)

Maybe you take life and all its hidden meanings seriously and thus abstract art is definitely your “thing”.

Michael Smither, Untitled, 1990, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/003/0337)

Michael Smither, Untitled, 1990, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/003/0337)

Or you don’t take life seriously at all.

Richard Stringer, Eternally yours, 1991, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/003/0340)

Richard Stringer, Eternally yours, 1991, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/003/0340)

Maybe you like making up stories and relate to hairy monsters on an emotional level.

Graham Kirk, Yawn, 1999, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/002/0204)

Graham Kirk, Yawn, 1999, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/002/0204)

Or maybe you’re just an angsty teen and this lithograph speaks to you more than any other.

Richard Stringer, Instinct, 1991, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/003/0345)

Richard Stringer, Instinct, 1991, lithograph. Purchased 2010. Te Papa (CA000931/003/0345)

Now everyone can linger through the Muka Youth Prints online, reminiscing about lost childhoods and how much you truly believed that what you stuck on your bedroom walls defined you as a person more than anything else.

What would you have spent your piggy bank dollars on? Have a look at the full set of youth prints here:
Muka Youth Prints, Te Papa Collections Online

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