HERE I AM
An exhibition of paintings celebrating Life, Love & Belonging
The paintings in this series are a culmination of the past two years, as I have endeavoured to find my beginnings, explore culture and understand identity. My journey in finding my way home to New Zealand is not just a tale about discovering family and place of origin, but it is about the discovery of self.
Across land, Sea & Sky, There is a place that I sat with my friend to discuss my journey home. It looked out across the ocean, with a slither of land and the vast blue sky. The beautiful blue, the tranquil flow of the water and the deep shapes of the land, creating the magnificent beauty of Aotearoa.
In returning home to New Zealand, I have found my place of origin and this has given me a stronger sense of self. When we know who we are, we can be our true selves and this freedom gives us the strength and courage to overcome all obstacles.
The Origins of Life, The passion of creation. Inspired by the Māori creation narrative.
When I took a tikanga (Māori customs) class at Massey Uni, I became fascinated by the creation narrative. There is a connection between the physical and spiritual realm that is a natural understanding of life on a universal level. A connection between each other, the physical order and the spiritual realm that transcends time and place.
This deeply spiritual understanding of existence is what I really connected to and it is from this place that I have always created art.
This painting, Origins of Life, is about the passion of creation.From the darkness, came the light, through the love of sacrifice. The separation of Ranginui (Sky-Father) and Papatūānuku (Earth-Mother). The colours of darkness, light and love, forming the whakapapa (genealogy) of creation.
Each new dawn enables us to embrace new knowledge, to be inspired by the possibilities that rise in front of us.
In the beginning all was dark. Nothing had form, but the darkness was full of the essence of things that could be, but were not yet. This darkness, this nothingness was still, but rich and thick with potential life. Then darkness separated from light and began the creation of all things.
It is within all of us, the capacity to overcome the darkness, in pursuit of the light.
The children of Ranginui (Sky-father) and Papatuanuku (Earth-mother) lived in darkness until they were desperate for the light.
Then Tane (the god of the forest) separated his primeval parents and the light of day flooded the realm of mankind. This love flowed into the earth and established all creation.
I had lived in Australia since I was two years old. My parents divorced when I was young and my dad returned to New Zealand. I visited him every few years. Summers were spent down at the batch with my cousins, where we hunted for pipies, caught fish and learnt to smoke.
For me at that time, New Zealand was the colour of paua. The deep shades of turquoise and the beautiful iridescent green, blue and purple.
This painting, Wairua is the essence or spirit of Aotearoa, beautiful soothing colours to heal your soul, inspire your spirit and to restore hope to your mind and heart.
When I started to learn about my own family history and cultural identity, I was deeply impacted with the understanding of whakapapa (Māori genealogy). Much more than the Pākheā understanding of genealogy, whakaapa incorporates Māori connection to the land and creation, as well as to each other. Whakapapa not only includes one's family and tribe and the connection we have with each other, but also traces genealogy right back to creation itself, incorporating the spiritual realm.
I started to think that if Pākheā genealogy is expressed as a tree, then whakaapa is like the whole forest, because everything is connected.
This is what it means to belong and this understanding healed within me a sense of abandonment that I had felt all my life, restoring an understanding of identity and self worth.