Nor West News : February 2nd 2012
Paint, paper -- a New Zealand landscape Detailed patience: Hundreds of painted strips of paper make up the Cosmos piece Gaylene Earl will exhibit at the Muriwai Waitangi Day Festival. Photo: BRIAN MOORHEAD Gaylene Earl is a dancer. Well, maybe not a profes- sional one although her trim and fit appearance might give that impression. She is an artist who laughs and says: I dance between Pilates and painting, I work with my body then I work with paint and paper. It all makes sense because for me, my vision and my activity are totally in sync. Despite having walked the revered pilgrimage Camino trail across Spain from the French Pyrenee to Santiago and soaked up the Navajo desert vista last year, it is still the New Zealand land- scape which inspires her. It is reflected in her piece Cosmos which will exhibit at the first Muriwai Waitangi Day Festival on February 6. Landscape is vast, she says. But to me it s really made up of many small bits. The whole is created out of all that detail. Cosmos is made up of hun- dreds of painted strips of paper anchored at one end onto a huge canvas with the other end left floating. In some of the works, the arrangement of the various ribbons of colour are so delib- erate, there is a horizon of sorts that emerges from out of the chaos; and the outline of a hill, a valley something familiar. In the big blue panel Playing with Paper -- Cos- mos, the tiny strips of blue are reminiscent of Maori feathered cloaks, though that wasn t Gaylene s intention. Here with my strips I attempt to create a shimmering and textured cascade of colour, to be explored and read as land- scape, as aspects of the natu- ral world. This is meditation for me. I have to feel totally surrounded by the land and my art. These are big pieces, I like big and they need to be. Her earlier series Primal Estate -- Not for Sale and the Landscape Subdivision Series using both oils and paper, explored Gaylene s love and concern for the ever diminishing forested land- scape where she referenced the early settler and the cur- rent ubiquitous subdivision and land use/abuse . In those intense works, Gaylene attempted to offer the viewer a variety of ways into the landscape to discover beauty or desolation, a grand or an intimate view . Muriwai artist unearths images of stories already in the dirt Soil stories: Sculptor Hemi Kiwikiwi uses dirt in his work which will be shown under the Every Day is Waitangi Day theme at the Muriwai festival. Hemi Kiwikiwi loves dirt. He has a special relationship with soil -- in fact he uses it in his art. There are a thousand stories in dirt, the Muriwai artist of Nga Puhi, Ngati Wai descent says. I believe the soil contains our DNA. It was here long before we arrived and it will exist long after we are gone. As a sculptor, Hemi relies on the medium he uses to guide him as to what will finally emerge, much to the surprise of some of his peers who mould the stone, wood or earth to a preconceived image. With pouwhenua and the like, the same figures keep popping up because they ve always been here. They are part of the land that contains stories from this area. Any- thing that I ve created is really about me building on the story; it s all about what s already in the land. Hemi s fascination with the soil can be attributed to two influences. Growing up as a child in Whangaruru, Hemi lived with his grandmother and surrounded by what he described as Maori essence. My grandmother didn t define Maori by colour. It was more about values, about what was inside. She used to say that everyone has Maori in them. The insights he gained from his grandmother proved valuable when he worked in Lake Alice psychiatric hos- pital near Whanganui, dur- ing a time when tikanga Maori was being imple- mented there. He describes the transfor- mation in patients. Some of the guys who sat in the usual classes never spoke. Then they would be transferred over to the tikanga Maori space, spend time with us and act com- pletely differently, he recalls. I remember one guy who didn t communicate at all then he stood up and sang all these waiata. Everyone used to wonder what we were get- ting up to in there! Hemi had long dropped out of art school because he found the academic framework did not sometimes recognise art that didn t fit the format . I didn t paint while I was working at Lake Alice. My art just got too dark. Hemi moved Australia and mixing with Aboriginal artists, painters and dancers where he learnt how to use ochre in the traditional way. It makes sense that when he isn t creating art out of dirt, he is working in it as a land- scape artist. Hemi s home in Muriwai is a creative space with drums parked up next to paintings, sculptures leaning on speakers and often a hui under way about a new com- munity venture. There s also a bunch of recycled materials he mixes up with wood, Perspex and dirt to create a new series of paintings and sculptures that he will exhibit under the theme Every Day is Waitangi Day.
January 26th 2012
February 9th 2012