I have always loved to paint and my artworks reflect my love of colour, geometric design and my cultural heritage. Born in Dannevirke in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay region, my tribal affiliation is Ngāti Kahungunu | Rangitane. My Māori heritage was and remains important in my life and in my art. After leaving school I studied Contemporary Māori Design at Wellington Polytechnic. It was there that I was honoured to have my designs selected to decorate two frosted glass panels for the doors of the No1 Court in the new High Court building then being built in Wellington. They are still there today.
Meeting the man who would become my husband, and the subsequent arrival of my three beautiful children, meant that for long periods there was no time or space for my paint and brushes. However, I continued over the years to paint and take art classes when I could. Recently, with my children becoming independent, it has been a great privilege to have the time and space to return to painting.
I am passionate about the patterns of tukutuku which are the woven wall panels seen in whare tipuna, or meeting houses. My mahi (work) is contemporary expression of negative-positive design elements of customary patterns evident in tukutuku (cross stitch weaving) and taniko (geometric weaving). Old or new, these patterns each convey different meanings, mythology and experiences. I have strong memories from my childhood of the tukutuku at the marae where my grandparents’ tangi (funeral) was held. It was an occasion where I had, perhaps for the first time, a strong sense of belonging and cultural identity.
My paintings are not exclusively based on tukutuku and tāniko but they are the inspiration for my current body
January 2018 - Cover illustration, Penguin Random House NZ, Maori Word A Day by Hemi Kelly
29th July 2017 - Mana Wahine Exhibition, Group show, Wellington, New Zealand