Art & me..
For me, Art is an essential part of my life. It has brought me to where I am today. As I add these posts I feel a sense of release. I can let go of some things in my head to help me pull it all back together closer & closer into place. Like, doing a jigsaw puzzle to see the finished image, then taking it all apart again because you know what it looks like or storing it & adding more to the collection.
My main mediums in Art when you think ‘specific’ would be Mokopu (Drawing) & Waituhi (Painting). I like to take those techniques & apply them in different ways using other materials & mediums. For example; Vinyl paint stencils on perspex, mono printing, montage, pastels, wood etc.. I recently did four piece’s for Toihoukura’s Mokopu Exhibition on Wed 4th April, 2012. It included a Drawing, two Mono prints & a Turapa.
Above is my drawing entitled ‘Hikurangi’. It was inspired by a hikoi (walk) that Toihoukura (students & staff totaling about 70) took up to the ‘Maui Whakairo’ (nine carvings based on Maui/Demigod) half way up Hikurangi Maunga – roughly 1000 metres above sea level in a small country town on the East Coast of New Zealand called Ruatoria. It is an iconic & staunch symbol of the Ngati Porou people of Aotearoa (New Zealand), as well as all Maori across the motu (land). The history dates back hundreds of years & the rocks that lay at its peaks are some of the oldest in the world. It also sees from the East, the first rays of sun in the world too!
Each carving is based on key elements that reflect the history of Maui & the Maunga (mountain) & positioned to reference a compass with ‘Maui’ standing the tallest in the centre. So much knowledge – how do I interpret this in my art?
Maori Symbolism. When I draw its like I’m trying to retain information so the symbolism allows me to crunch the information within my designs, each representing something specific. A term coined by a friend of mine as ‘visual shorthand’. My drawing reflects the korero (talk) of each carving that was explained to us when we finally reached this point of the Maunga – a few hours walk from the bottom. It also represents Tama-nui-te-ra (Mighty Sun) & of course, Hikurangi, its two peaks, five adjacent mountains & river at its feet.
My two Mono prints were experiments within the medium. For quick design ideas, I related them to my marae (meeting place of Maori tradition) & our Year Three Project Theme ‘Tangata’ (People). The first one is entitled ‘Whangara-Mai-Tawhiti’ – name of my marae. It reflects a view-point from the top of Pukehapopo (hill behind marae) looking out over the bay. The two triangular design at the top represent the two Wharenui (meeting-house) on my marae – ‘Whitireia’, which was built as a Whare Wananga (house of learning) & ‘Waho-te-rangi’ which is our Whare Mate (house where we lay our dead at funerals). The second piece is simple entitled ‘Tangata’ & incorporates a combination of signature designs & colors I like to use.
I also enjoy the art of Raranga (Weaving), even though I wouldn’t call myself a ‘weaver’ as I more like to ‘dabble’ or ‘tutu’. However, I do have a love for the Turapa & the Tukutuku design which I not only appreciate as an art form but as a standing testimony among others, to the traditions of Maori people. It is art forms such as this that held together our communities, fed & clothed our kaumatua (elderly), our tamariki (children), our warriors & our women. These art forms speak of our history & knowledge that we must share & pass down to our younger generation so that they too can insure our culture stays alive.
This Turapa entitled ‘Ko Rangi, Ko Papa’ was the forth piece i submitted as part of Toihoukura’s Week Wananga Noho at Whangara-Mai-Tawhiti Marae in February. It’s about our land & our heavens. The yellow design at the top & bottom is made up of four ‘Niho Taniwha’. It represents Ranginui (Sky father), Papatuanuku (Earth mother) & Whangara (The Four Sails). The name ‘Whangara’ makes reference to four triangular rocks that can be seen at low tide on the beach, sticking out of the sand. In the time of our ancestors, these rocks were used to navigate our waka (boats) ashore. It has now become one of my signature designs. The yellow rows of ‘Purapurawhetu’ in the centre represent those who have passed & the black/white ‘Roimata Toroa’ above & bellow that represent our responsibility to each other & our environment. These designs are only a few of many Tukutuku designs that are still used widely today.
Yellow, black, White & Gold are colors I always use in almost every piece I do. They represent my whakapapa (geneology) & personality adding that signature element to my mahi (work).
A few pics of me in my studio….
Ka kite ano,