Multicultural background to new exhibition

TU MAI TANE MAHUTA: The three disciplines of visual arts, carving and weaving are represented in Pou te Wharau: echoes of our ancestors at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. Works include Kiri Wray’s Tu Mai Tane Mahuta that pays respect to her great-grandfather. Pictures by Paul Rickard
SEIGAIHA: Maiko Lewis-Whaanga, a first year student with Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s Toi Matapu course, draws on Japanese motifs such as the stylised fish-scale pattern created from overlapping concentric circles (seigaiha) that can be used to represent cloud and sea.

JAPANESE, Norwegian, French and Scottish backgrounds among Toi Matapu students bring a multicultural aspect to Pou te Wharau: Echoes of our Ancestors, an exhibition at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

The three disciplines of raurangi (visual arts), raranga (weaving) and whakairo (carving) are brought together in the exhibition that opens tonight.

“We have a diverse range of cultures and abilities in this year’s exhibition,” says student Paul Reedy.

To explore the theme of the show, Reedy’s painting depicts the transition between two realms.

At the bottom left of the work is a representation of the figure spirits meet before they transition to the afterlife.

“This is the place where our ancestors go when they go to the next realm,” says Reedy.

First year student Maiko Lewis-Whaanga includes in her work Japanese motifs such as the stylised fish-scale pattern. Known as unaunahi, the pattern is created from overlapping concentric circles (seigaiha) that can be used to represent cloud and sea.

In one work, the tail of an opaque blue whale slaps the surface of a patterned sea as it dives from a stylised Maori figure in a canoe.

Curling wash

The curling wash shaped by the whale’s tail recalls 19th century Japanese woodblock printer Hokusai’s famous work The Great Wave. Included in the fish-scale pattern that makes up the ocean are stylised faces that suggest figures seen in Maori carving or hei-tiki.

Blue is the dominant colour in Lewis-Whaanga’s works for the show. The import of the Prussian blue pigment from Europe in the 1820s is said to have been key to the development of a Japanese woodblock print style known as aizuri-e (blue printed picture).

Iridescent blue and green feathers feature in Kiri Wray’s woven work Tu Mai Tane Mahuta.

“The kaupapa is that it represents when our land was taken,” says Wray. “We lived in the Waipoua Forest.

Two of New Zealand’s largest living kauri trees, Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere, stand in the forest on the west coast north of Dargaville.

“My great grandfather was a Te Roroa chief who fought all his life to get his land back,” says Wray.

“He did a haka naked in a Maori land court.

“It took five generations to get the land back. This work is like giving back his mana.”

JAPANESE, Norwegian, French and Scottish backgrounds among Toi Matapu students bring a multicultural aspect to Pou te Wharau: Echoes of our Ancestors, an exhibition at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

The three disciplines of raurangi (visual arts), raranga (weaving) and whakairo (carving) are brought together in the exhibition that opens tonight.

“We have a diverse range of cultures and abilities in this year’s exhibition,” says student Paul Reedy.

To explore the theme of the show, Reedy’s painting depicts the transition between two realms.

At the bottom left of the work is a representation of the figure spirits meet before they transition to the afterlife.

“This is the place where our ancestors go when they go to the next realm,” says Reedy.

First year student Maiko Lewis-Whaanga includes in her work Japanese motifs such as the stylised fish-scale pattern. Known as unaunahi, the pattern is created from overlapping concentric circles (seigaiha) that can be used to represent cloud and sea.

In one work, the tail of an opaque blue whale slaps the surface of a patterned sea as it dives from a stylised Maori figure in a canoe.

Curling wash

The curling wash shaped by the whale’s tail recalls 19th century Japanese woodblock printer Hokusai’s famous work The Great Wave. Included in the fish-scale pattern that makes up the ocean are stylised faces that suggest figures seen in Maori carving or hei-tiki.

Blue is the dominant colour in Lewis-Whaanga’s works for the show. The import of the Prussian blue pigment from Europe in the 1820s is said to have been key to the development of a Japanese woodblock print style known as aizuri-e (blue printed picture).

Iridescent blue and green feathers feature in Kiri Wray’s woven work Tu Mai Tane Mahuta.

“The kaupapa is that it represents when our land was taken,” says Wray. “We lived in the Waipoua Forest.

Two of New Zealand’s largest living kauri trees, Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere, stand in the forest on the west coast north of Dargaville.

“My great grandfather was a Te Roroa chief who fought all his life to get his land back,” says Wray.

“He did a haka naked in a Maori land court.

“It took five generations to get the land back. This work is like giving back his mana.”

Toi Matapu exhibition, Pou Te Wharau: echoes of our ancestors, opens at Te Wananga o Aotearoa 6pm tonight.

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