The only constant in life is change

After 47 years in Australia, we arrived home to New Zealand in April 2018 and soon after landed in Palmerston North. After a few months working in Helen's studio, mum and I opened our own art space, Studio 201 at the Square Edge Arts Centre. We loved it so much, we ran workshops, showcased my paintings and opened during the first Manawatu Arts Trail. It was the best studio I have ever had. We found ourselves a job, managing Palmy 31, but what I really wanted to do was to study at Massey University, the Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts.

I read a book recently Huia Come Home by Jay Ruka. In this book, the author discusses the history of Aotearoa, the importance of Māori worldview and the purpose of God for the people and the land. Jay uses the metaphor of the huia, once a highly prized indigenous bird, but now extinct, to symbolise the loss of value for Māori. He encourages a fresh perspective of New Zealand's history, inspiring an appreciation for Māori worldview and hope for the future by recovering treasures once thought to be extinct.

This story of my journey home, finding my family and a place in New Zealand, is a story of reconciliation that could have only been made possible by divine grace. I am a tale of two cultures. I feel I am one of the hui birds come home. Resurrected from extinction and now on a path for finding true identity and exploring the inheritance (knowledge) of my Māori heritage. As I come to understand this history, culture and inheritance, it will strengthen who I am as a person and an artist.

Coming Home  acrylic on linen, 154 x 76cm

Coming Home acrylic on linen, 154 x 76cm

To pursue the studies, sacrifices had to be made. With a heavy heart we packed up our amazing studio gallery and for now, closed the door on Studio 201. Running Palmy 31 and beginning cultural studies will keep me busy enough.

So I am now enrolled in the Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts and the course starts tomorrow. The beginning of a new chapter, new season. My first subjects are Socialising in Te Reo, Traditional Māori Visual Art and Studio 1A. I am a little terrified, as I don't know anything and I will be learning to speak Māori through my Australian accent! But I am determined to bring my voice to this conversation and express through my art, the beauty of a fusion of pākeha and Māori influences. This is the story of Aotearoa and this is my story.

This will be my last post for a while, as I delve into the world of study. If you have been following my journey, I thank you for joining my story. I started out with an idea to write a few blog posts about finding my family, but the adventure has been so amazing, there were so many great stories to share, that I had to keep writing. I'll post again after my first semester, or first year, depending on how it goes! I know this knowledge will have a great impact on my art and my life. I don't know where the journey will take me next, but I am happy to just head down the road.

I already have an exhibition booked in May at the Square Edge Arts Centre, so if you are near Palmy, come and join us for the celebration, I'm sure I will have new paintings to show and more stories to tell.

All the best to you, Cheers Froyle