art

Part 14: The Colours of Hope

'Hope' acrylic on linen, 100 x 100cm

'Hope' acrylic on linen, 100 x 100cm

This is my colour of hope. I painted it on a Monday, during a difficult few weeks. I was tired, out of art supplies and discouraged, but I had to paint. I had to find from within myself the strength to believe that things would get better. The composition came together as I emptied pots of paint and squeezed out the last remnants of colour. It is beautiful. Though we fall, we will yet arise, hope keeps believing. This painting, ‘Hope’ is a visual expression of what can be found within our own hearts when we trust God is who He says He is. 

Three years before mum & I headed back to New Zealand, we were running a business / ministry called Colours of Hope. I was creating richly saturated paintings of beautiful colours and mum was making art cushions to match. We were running workshops, selling things and giving things away. It was all about encouraging people, it was a revolution to inspire hope through colour & beauty, in the face of global despair.

It began when my cousin Evana went through the horrific ordeal of breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy and all the treatment that aligns with this procedure. Mum decided to head over to Perth, Western Australia, to help Evana’s husband and four children cope with the illness. Mum loved them, served them and looked after the household while Evana had her treatments. When it was time for her to come home, Evana wanted something to remember the experience she had spent with Aunty Helen and so she decided to buy one of my paintings called ‘Grace’.

Art is spiritual, it carries the intention for which it has been created. My art is intentional, I definitely have an agenda, I want to give people an encounter with the presence of God. I want to release peace, joy, love, into people’s lives through art. There is a world full of heartbreak. I want my art to inspire hope through colour, beauty and the Spirit from which I create.

Evana with her 'Grace' painting

Evana with her 'Grace' painting

The painting ‘Grace’ was inspired by Psalm 23 and it is an expression of the rest, provision and peace of God. 

'You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side, Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life’ (Message Bible).

This is the revelation of God’s nature that Evana needed to experience at that moment and it made me think; What if I could take the painting off the canvas and literally wrap her in the art? All the colour, beauty and purpose could physically surround her. It is this pursuit that birthed the Colours of Hope Collection.

Art as a cushion

Art as a cushion

We literally took my richly coloured paintings off the canvas and printed them onto fabric, which was then made into beautiful art cushions. It was art as a cushion and the material was soft, luxurious and of the highest quality. Each cushion had been handmade, a beautiful original artwork and often a one off creation. They were created to inspire - with such intention (and titles), as Hope, Grace, Freedom and Furious Love.

Why Cushions? I had someone ask me why were we making cushions and what did that have to do with hope? Cushions are soft and comfortable, they can be squeezed, laid on, cuddled and they look beautiful. We hold them to our chest in an embrace, or we lay on them, releasing the Spirit filled intention to our head or our heart. Colour is healing. Surrounding ourselves with beautiful things makes us feel better, makes us happy and this makes us hopeful. What you surround yourself with will create an atmosphere in your home and lives, so choose to surround yourself with hope. The art cushions were unique, handmade and beautiful, but my original vision was for material that would make the perfect scarf.

Me & Mum

Me & Mum

Then, we finally found it, the perfect scarf material! It was so very soft, it printed sharp and clean and bled through to the back side. Finally we had the very thing that started the whole pursuit. We could literally wrap people in my art.

I had it in my hands, my first 'Hope' scarf, printed with perfection, beautiful, soft, truly glorious. Mum had cut the fabric in two pieces, hemmed the edges and added the 'care instructions', I thought this was going to be the item that out sold all of the cushions, purses and bags; but then I received the messages.

Two of them, the very next morning. One from a friend whose sister was going into surgery with a brain tumour and one from another friend, whose friend they knew, was given only weeks to live - dirty cancer.  How could I not respond when the need was so great, the pain so deep and life so valuable. This is not right, all this suffering and pain. So I decided to send the two scarfs on assignment. Freely sent, with love, prayer and hope. It was not a big thing, but it was something. It was what I had in my hands.

scarf postcard front.jpg

In Acts 19:12, the scripture says that fabric touched Paul and the anointing of God was transferred onto the scarves and hankies, and as the disciples sent out the fabric it healed the sick. I believe in this miracle working God, I know that all things are possible (Matt 19:26).

Those two messages changed everything, we just kept making scarfs and sending them. Two, then six, twelve and by the end of the first month, we had sent out thirty scarfs full of hope - free. The requests just found their way in and my friends started to sponsor the vision, so we kept buying the fabric and we continued to send scarfs on assignment. Filled with hope and prayers for healing, we sent out scarfs to people in need. We did not sell them, not one, we sent them on assignment, because sometimes there are things worth more than money.

Some people sponsored the vision and the project continued mostly by word of mouth. We got requests from people wanting to send a scarf to their sick and often dying friends and family members. When we received a request, we sent a scarf, anywhere, everywhere, all over the world. Beautiful, soft, saturated in colour and hope and it arrived in the post to be a blessing and a comfort. It made people feel loved and valued. It was inspiring hope.

For nearly three years we sent scarfs on assignment, hundreds of them, all over the world. We heard amazing testimonies of what a simple act of kindness could do. But then my world fell apart again, not long after I got to Palmy, my second marriage disintegrated and I was devastated. After 23 years, Andrew chose another lifestyle. I shut down the Colours of Hope, I could no longer believe that anything was possible and it was time to get a real job.

Part 13: The Exhibition

We arrived in Palmy on the 5th April 2017 with two suitcases. We didn't really know how it would go or how long we would stay. I had only just met Helen, when she invited me to share her studio space and I really didn't know if the idea would even work. It was cold and mum grizzled a lot about the weather. She said she was only going to stay a few months, to get me settled, then she was going to head up north where it is warmer.

But after a few months, we had decided that we loved Palmy! The art space was working out extremely well, so I booked two exhibitions, one in January 2018 and one for May 2018. That would give me enough time to develop a collection of paintings in response to my journey home.

The exhibition at Space Studio Gallery came around pretty quick. Mum had decided to stay and the months just zoomed by. Our new studio space was perfect for running workshops and show casing my paintings, and the Manawatu Arts Trail was very successful.

Friday 13th January was the opening night for my Journey Home exhibition. We didn't really expect too much of a crowd as we didn't really know many people, but we had a couple of beautiful friends who joined us and the collection looked fantastic on the white walls.

Space Studio Gallery

Space Studio Gallery

The highlight of the night was meeting Moana Henry. I have had trouble with my name all my life. I was teased at school endlessly, nobody can get it right on the phone and people have even thought that it was my surname. So when someone asked me where it came from? or what it meant? I answered that my mum was drunk at the time! Mum hated me saying this, as she had named me after a women she had met. She was a nurse in Auckland, a twin and someone mum had admired.

Me, Moana & Mum

Me, Moana & Mum

Moana had come to the exhibition opening because of my name, she wanted to see who this Froyle was. It turns out that Moana knows my name sake Froyle, she calls her Aunty. Moana knows her whole family and her family are from Whanganui. My name sake Froyle is now 72, a significant Maori woman, who Moana said carries a strong presence.

It was quite an amazing evening, mum got to say, 'I told you so!' and the encounter gave significance to my name, further affirming my identity. I thought it was pretty extrodinary that the first exhibition for my Journey Home collection, was in the home town of my name sake, and I didn't even know!

Part 12: The Journey Home Collection

On the 5th April 2017, mum and I returned home to New Zealand after 47 years in Australia, carrying two suitcases each. We were picked up at the airport by our beautiful friends Dean & Treena, who leant us their spare car and waved us goodbye as we headed to Palmy.

We checked into Baxters, a student accommodation facility where mum & I shared a double room for three months. Each day I went to Helen's studio, researched and painted in response to the experience of my journey home. For me, painting is necessary as breathing to process the seasons of life.

The Square Edge Arts Centre was so very arty! Every floor housed studios for dancers, musicians, singers and visual artists. It was like something out of an American movie. Every art supply need was met from the Ochre art store so conveniently placed downstairs and the Cafe Royale served the best beef pies I have ever eaten.

During the first few months, while I was researching the history of Māori art, I spent a lot of time using the wifi in the cafe. This gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of the local people and make a few new friends. The experience was everything I had hoped for.

Across the Waters & Where the Sea Meets the Sky are two of my first paintings of my new collection. I was researching the ancestors journey across the waters from their original homeland. They set out on their waka, being guided by the stars, in search of new land and a new life. It would have taken such courage and strength, to launch out with their families into the unknown. This is how I feel, having packed up all that I had and leaving all that I knew behind, to venture home to a land I know nothing about. It is both exciting and scary, but I feel compelled to take the journey.

Across the Waters  mixed media on linen, 61 x 61cm

Across the Waters mixed media on linen, 61 x 61cm

Where the Sea Meets the Sky  acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Where the Sea Meets the Sky acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Tangata Whenua is one of the first Māori words & concepts I understood in my journey home - 'People of the Land'. Of course it means different things in different context, but for my understanding it means the connection Māori have for their land & nation, the earth itself, the ancestors that have passed through the veil and the family present now. It is more than just living on a patch of ground in a house, it is what it means to belong - to a people, to a place.

Tangata Whenua 1  mixed media on linen, 61 x 61cm

Tangata Whenua 1 mixed media on linen, 61 x 61cm

Tangata Whenua 2  acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Tangata Whenua 2 acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

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After a few months sharing the art space with Helen, it became apparent that I needed to find my own studio. I tend to expand to my parameter, so to keep growing I needed more space. Just at the right time, a studio space right next door to Helen became available and mum and I launched Studio 201. We ran workshops & classes, joined the Arts Trail and I continued with my collection.

Inheritance 1  acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Inheritance 1 acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Inheritance 2  acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Inheritance 2 acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

I have always favoured the colours red, black and white. In the way I dress and how I decorate my house. I never really thought much about it and my family always teased me about my obsession with these colours. Recently I started to research Māori art history and found to my surprise that red, black and white are traditional colours for Māori. Is this a coincidence? or does DNA play a significant part in who we are? Is there such a thing as cultural DNA? These paintings are an expression of who I am. The colour red deeply moves me and as I allow myself the freedom to be me, my paintings become an inheritance of all I am yet to understand.

Here I Am  acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Here I Am acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Identity is such a complicated matter, because it involves the big questions of life, Why am I here? Where did I come from? Who am I? We have become who we are through both nature (our DNA makeup) and nurture (the way we are raised).

For me, the huia feather represents my own non-existence. My birth mother (pakeha) did not tell anyone that I was born, and still to this day, will not let her family know that I exist. Why is that? Is it because of the social pressure of status, unwed pregnancy, mixed race baby? Why am I still a secret?

When Governor Grey visited New Zealand in 1901, a Māori women took the tail feather of the huia bird from her hair and placed it into the hatband on the Duke's head. Upon returning to London, this stunning looking representation of social status became a fashion icon that helped to hunt the native bird to extinction. Everybody wants social acceptance. But here I am, grateful for my life and the treasure I have found in my Māori heritage.

Silver Rose 2  acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Silver Rose 2 acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Silver Rose 1  acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

Silver Rose 1 acrylic on linen, 61 x 61cm

The Silver Rose paintings are an expression of my dual identity. The silver fern is an international symbol of New Zealand, while the English are known for their roses. Being both English and Māori descent, I am a silver rose.

When I first met my brother Brownie, he embraced me into the family, reciting our whakapapa and blessing me with the Lord’s prayer in Te Reo. He gave me the pendant from around his neck (the shape is in the painting), a koru design that he had carved from a mother of pearl shell, and I felt such an incredible sense of belonging.

When we first arrived in Palmy, I had booked an exhibition at The Space Studio Gallery, so on Friday night the 13th January we opened the first exhibition of my new collection and it was quite a remarkable evening.