Te moe a te kekeno

These works are a follow on from ‘Iterations of my tūpuna’ 2020, this time further exploring natural pigment through unconventional painting methods.

The Ancestor
The Nurturer
The Identity

COMING SOON: The Heirloom

The use of ephemeral kōkōwai mounds in these works, communicates the fragility of Papatūānuku and wāhine alike. Yet, the imprints talk to their strength, being able to still hold and nurture in even the most fragile states.

These works are alive, so they are intended to be viewed open without covering for this reason. It is hoped that the viewer will use other senses, rather than touch to engage with the works. However, should some pigment make it’s way onto the viewer, it will connect the wairua of artist, taonga and viewer in the space. The added bonus, that some pigment may drop to the floor and leave a mark, talks to the strength of indigenous peoples and their knowledge, always existing despite constant intergenerational attempts to remove them.

On request to be able to house the works for longer, a large amount of time was put into choosing a preferable way to house a life. Bowls, jars and other food related covering were not an option as they would remove the tapu of the taonga. Plastic perspex gallery boxes also not an option, with plastic being a major killer of our wildlife. After some unsuccessful google research, I didn’t think I would find anything suitable that I was really happy with. But luckily, from over hearing a random conversation, I suddenly discovered Wardian cases. These were a perfect way to still acknowledge the mauri of the taonga inside. Simultaneously, it comments on indigenous taonga stolen during early colonisation, that continue to remain in museums disconnected from their people. The latter is why I chose the title for these works, it’s a line from the mōteatea that guided the works, ‘Te moe a te kekeno’, a metaphor of a lonely seal at sea, I imagine this as the stolen taonga. The mōteatea also sings of the inconsolable grief for a loved one, again which I’m sure describes how whānau feel about their stolen taonga in cold institutions far away.

Photograph of the exhibited works at Te Pūtahi a Toi, Massey University Palmerston North 2020.


Photograph of exhibited photographs at Sanderson Gallery, Auckland 2022
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