It’s getting to be a welcoming habit to take part in the 100 Days a Journey Project, facilitated by my friend and artist Kate Hartmann and John Cornish and in partnership with Mahara Gallery in Waikanae.

This year I am focusing on bark as my main medium. After lock down and my latest exhibition in Hastings I am finding myself getting more immersed in Te Taiao (natural environment) looking for materials and ways to express my spiritual connection with my home here at the Tararua Ranges and the urge to create, focusing on a sustainable arts practice.

Bark, I guess is something often overseen by the search for the heart wood, bark being a by product, good for mulching (yes) or kindling for fire wood (yes too).

Bark is the outermost layer of a tree (and shrubs and vines) very much comparable with our human skin; it protects the tree from external invaders, fungal infections and the elements like wind and sun.

Bark wraps around the tree like our skin our tinana (body). Bark has attractive textures, lovely impurities and subtle colors and it often serves as symbiotic home for lichens and mosses.

During the 100 days (we are at day 43) I did material studies (lots of plodding through the bush) small experiments and finished off some pieces. So far I have used mainly eucalyptus bark, easy to pick up on my daily walks but I will look at other suitable bark as well. Luckily we have a firewood business in our close whanau.

I am enjoying the tactile experience of bark; its often a trial and error process, each piece of bark is different in thickness, some paper thin, some leather like… there have been some delightful surprises along the journey.

The creativity and work of all participants will be celebrated in an exhibition at Mahara Gallery in November, I will post details soon.

If you want to find out more about the 100 days a Journey check following link.