Ariaaariki: Footprints & Selfies
After officially launching my creative brand Ariaaariki on the 1st February 2013, it was my goal to host & curate my first solo exhibition. As i was also completing my Studio Workshop Certificate (graduate self directed paper) that same year at Toihoukura, it allowed me to focus on establishing my brand, business & niche art form Toimaikuku as apart of my project proposal for the year.
Having raced through the better part of the year setting up my studio at the Poverty Bay Club, making two trips down to Wellington – one for my first public exhibition outside of Toihoukura ‘Te Ha O Hineteiwaiwa’ & the Miromoda Fashion Contest, completing two Tukutuku Panels for the UN Turapa project, graduation, a Make-Up competition, several community projects including the Wahine Oranga Programme, two school galas,Te Wananga O Aotearoa Matariki Fashion Show & EIT Girls Day Out Hospice Tairawhiti fundraiser, the Atamira Festival in Auckland & two Toihoukura exhibitions, not to mention the general day to day running of my business – accounts, marketing, promotion, client growth etc.. the pressure of completing & curating a full set of artworks to open & host myself became quiet a daunting challenge.
With Toihoukura’s annual end of year graduate exhibition’s starting around early October, it was imperative that i met with principal tutor Steve Gibbs to slot in a date for my entitled exhibition ‘Footprints & Selfies’ as i feared i may just crack under all the pressure. With the date locked in for Thurs 28th November 2013 & the invites sealed, stamped & sent it was like MJ said ‘this is it’ – there was no turning back. I’d be one of a few graduate students to host an exhibition off-site so it was extremely exciting but very, very nerve racking all at the same time.
As the opening day approached it was the usual crunch time – weekends, lots of late nights & early mornings. The nerves were taking over but i just kept pushing forward assuring myself that ‘Hello!! You just got through a three year degree with tones of challenges & barriers to pull down, nerve racking & heart racing situations to conquer….pffft, this is nothing! Stop working yourself up!’ LOL.
Two days before opening my dear friend Elizabeth came in to help me curate the show. As per the typical artist regime, i was still finishing up works, printing labels & running around like a mad woman – i couldn’t have done it with out her!
With everything done, the opening day arrived & i was feeling surprisingly relaxed. I had a hair appointment booked so that probably helped & my mum had taken the day off to help me run erands, prep the food & set up – i couldn’t have done it with out her either. I felt really lucky to have such wonderful support. My nervous butterflies suddenly turned into butterflies of excitement : )
I had my girlfriend Roberta turn up to help transport the kai from Toihoukura to the Poverty Bay Club as well as take sales & my bro Alex came to set up & run my bar for the night. All there was left to do was get my pretties on & wait for everyone to arrive. Come 6pm, guests started arriving & by 7pm it kicked off.
Elizabeth opened the floor for me, followed by a karakia (prayer) i read out. I had only learnt it that day as a few days before my daughter was playing with a small bible given to me by my nanny & inside it had prayer she had written for me & my mum years before her passing. It fell out & i picked it up knowing what it was & just burst into tears. Up until then i wasn’t sure who would do the blessing for my exhibition (maori tradition at any gathering) as my papa would have but couldn’t because he wasn’t able to get up the two flights of stairs to my studio, so it dawned on me then & there that i could do my own. It was very emotional, took me a few minutes to get going but when i finished, i was elated. Elizabeth spoke, making me teary all over again, followed by my principal tutors Tina Wirihana & Steve Gibbs then myself. It was a great turn out, a profound moment, one of great pride, relief & satisfaction. It was done, a first of many – first solo, first year in business & first exhibition for Ariaaariki : )
The inspiration behind my kaupapa ‘Footprints & Selfies’ was the functions of success in business & life, trying to balance the two, a step by step process between each footprint/step which i liken to ‘making a difference in the world’ is a selfie/self portrait which i liken to a type of selfishness in order to ‘make your mark in the world’. I’ve learnt that success requires a lot of sacrifice & self motivation.The artworks also explore issues that have resonated with me along my journey – health & wellbeing, global warming, environmental issues, cultural identity as well as the power of thought.