Today, my solo exhibition Whai Hua is officially opening at Schmid Gallery in Martinborough/Wairarapa.
The title Whai Hua translates from Māori into ‘to have value’ or being ‘worthwhile’. It focusses on work that I made from natural materials, that are mostly available in abundance and therefore often perceived as ordinary or of little value.
To work this way has turned out to suit my need to be in nature, to find balance in difficult times, it fuels me with inspiration and fulfils my desire to work in a sustainable way with little impact on the natural environment (te taiao).
Often, I don’t gather anything, just spending time at the river, sitting and making little rock sculptures or other arrangements with whatever is there and taking (lots of) photos. Doing just that nurtures my soul (ngākau) and therefore is worthwhile.
One of my favourite works in this exhibition is the Kōhatu (rock) series, made from dried harakeke; although they are hollow and light, they do have a very similar appearance to the local rock faces, which are rough and fractured and from volcanic origin. While scientists calling them ‘non living earth material’, in Māori culture, everything has a mauri or lifeforce, even rocks. I have been using red thread symbolising life and mauri, the cast shadows adding wairua (spirit) to the work.
The work Whakatutuki (to be whole or complete) is an arrangement of hundreds of dried harakeke sticks, twined together into a circle. It conveys the idea of that ‘whole’ feeling when something major has been achieved and completed in life.
Other materials such as bark or leaf twigs (petiole) I have gathered on many walks, washed and dried for weeks before turning them into artworks which usually are very simple, yet delicate in construction. I don’t want to distract from what they actually are: natural materials, rich in meaning and value to me.
Schmid Gallery is open Tue – Sat, 10 -3
Exhibition closes on the 28th of May