Vandalism or value?: Owner of artwork ‘corrected’ by Tāme Iti expects prosecution, artist says he appreciates it

Tame Iti enters Wellington hotel to correct the spelling of his name on a painting on display. Video / Tame Iti via Facebook

The owner of an artwork “corrected” by artist and activist Tāme Iti says he expects the police to prosecute.

It comes after Iti posted a video to social media showing him walking into Wellington’s QT Hotel and crossing out a misspelling of his name on a work of art hanging in it.

“They call me Tame, Tama, somehow or another, you know. Such a simple name – Tāme,” he tells the camera.

He then approaches an artwork mounted on the wall, which reads “Tama performs in a New Zealand landscape” and crosses out the misspelling in orange paint.

Tāme Iti corrects the spelling of his name. Photo / Tāme Iti
Tāme Iti corrects the spelling of his name. Photo / Tāme Iti

The painting, by Dean Proudfoot, depicts Iti holding a gun and a skull in front of a New Zealand flag on the ground, with its misspelt title.

Above the now crossed-out spelling, he paints “Tāme” in white.

Art collector, philanthropist and hotelier Chris Parkin who owns the QT Hotel and the artwork within it told Stuff he saw the correction as “vandalism”.

“I expect the police to prosecute him. They certainly would me if I went to Te Papa and vandalised an artwork.”

The Herald has contacted Parkin for further comment.

However, the artist who created the work says he believes it has been elevated by Iti’s correction.

Proudfoot told the Herald he apologises “unreservedly” to Tāme for the misspelling.

“There was no offence intended – it was a clear lack of research on my behalf.”

He said the series in which the work is part of is about celebrating Aotearoa’s “unique characters”.

“Tāme is the epitome of what makes our country special.”

He added that in his view, the correction has given the work a new life with a far more “powerful” meaning.

“It has been elevated. I thank him for that and for what I’ve learnt as well.”

When contacted by the Herald for comment, an NZ Police spokesperson said “anyone who makes a complaint to police has the right to privacy”.

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