The Journey Home Collection
The painting collection of the journey finding my way home, discovering family, exploring culture and understanding identity. An expression of what it means to be found.
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.
Tangata Whenua, this is one of the first Māori words & concepts I understood in my journey home 'People of the Land'. The connection Māori have for their land & nation, the earth itself, the ancestors that have passed through the veil & 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.
Whakapapa is Like The Whole Forest, there is something so solidifying about being home. It’s the resonance of the colours, the sound, the beauty of the land and the people. Everything is connected in whakapapa, right back to creation itself, and if pākehā genealogy is represented by a family tree, then whakapapa is like the whole forest!
Coming home has given me such permission to be myself, passionate, loud, colourful and full of life. 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.
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. The Flight of Humanity 1 & 2 incorporate kowhaiwhai design inspired kowhai ngutukaka (flower of the kaka beak), this painting is the exploration of creative enquiry. It is within humanity the desire to grow, to learn, to expand and to understand.
The Journey Home is not just a tale about discovering family and place of origin, but it is about the discovery of self.
When Governor Grey visited New Zealand in 1901, a Māori woman took the tail feather of the huia bird from her hair and placed it into the hat band 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 status, no matter the cost.
To me, the huia feather in my paintings represent a part of my own identity. Like the extinct native bird, my life has been made redundant by the pressure of social status. I am still a secret, a misadventure kept hidden.
The huia feather is also a symbol of strength, because here I am. I now know who I am and where I have come from. This knowledge has given me a liberty to be who I have been created to be.