Sofia Tekala-Smith: Savage Island Man with Pure 2003
I created two wearable art pieces this week. This one is called "Kiri" (aka "Skins") and is created using an old jute sack as the foundation cloth. Just like the ones they use for hangi pits. I am sure my great grandfather had a lean-to made from these in the Kauri swamps over 100 years ago, as gumdiggers did. I have attached eco-dyed fabrics (wool, silk, muslin and felt merino/silk tissue) to represent the 'skins' as well as 'Ngatu' or traditional Pacific Island barkcloth (this one is from Tonga)..
This piece represents my understanding of who I am as a Maori woman in Aotearoa today. The foundation (jute sack) is my own 'Maori' culture. However, no culture is pure and my own is one of mixed influences and breeding. I already mentioned my Yugoslav great grandfather (now Croatia) but I am also married to a Niuean/Cook Island/Tahitian man, and my kids are a fusion of our marriage. I also attend a Pakeha institute, live in a Polynesian-saturated city and have lots of wonderful friends from many cultures. Although Maori is my culture of origin, rubbing up against other cultures has a way of influencing the way that I live. This rubbing against other people causes me to have a patchwork-like identity on the outside while the inside is still intact and whole.
This spotty piece is a remnant of silk velvet, shibori-dyed in flax dye.
The strap is made from barkcloth and embellished with small cowrie shells from the Pacific Islands. My handstitching is pretty primitive.
I made a matching choker and arm cuff too.
Finally Suzanne choreographed a show involving all our work for the faculty. I found it difficult to speak in this setting, feeling quite vulnerable due to the nature of my work and having to speak about it in a public setting. Plus I felt that I was resolving this piece in myself. I was not yet confident with where it sat for me, and felt it a little premature to put out there. However the school commanded that it be done, so I did it.
However I will be more careful next time with my work, not committing to anything until it is resolved in my own heart. Call me precious, but it got a bit much when people were photographing my work before it was even completed without even asking. Now I know the kaupapa (protocol, professionalism, respect) for other artists work is to ask permission however it seems that because I am a student, that didn't count. I felt a bit used and that annoys me. And although I am not usually shy in coming forward, it was a difficult situation to speak up about without sounding pissy. That is my one bug bear of the week.
The rest was fantastic. The other students all created fantastic works too. I loved working with the dancers and can't wait to attend their performances before they head off to Italy next month for a tour. Suzanne was helpful in that everytime I hit a wall, she showed me the next step and off I went again. So not once did I slow down, lose my flow or get stuck. Zero frustration there. Creativity just flowed like a river and all my detritus that I have collected got used. I came to realise just how much I love using raw materials. I was offered a swan's skull and am looking forward to working that into a chest piece. If you have any cool bones lying around that you aren't using, contact me. I will pay for postage and what have you. Also if you know of a 'bones' person in New Zealand, let me know. Except for human bones that is. Ew! But skulls of small animals, birds, etc would be welcome.
Suzanne will also be running a workshop through Whitireia Summer School programme - January 2009, so if you are interested, look out for that later on in the year. I will be there ready create and maybe even perform next time. If you wanna come play with us, book in.
* Go to more intensives and workshops to get concentrated fixes with talented artists;
* Probably have a tidier house (although that is not a given);
* Go thrifting more, finding secondhand bargains, garage sales, op shops, markets and school galas, and save us money (which I have not had as much time to do in the last two years);
* Learn to sew better and join an embroidery group;
* Finish my projects including a tivaevae;
* Learn Te Reo Maori;
* Sleep in more and not wake up tired and running on empty (which doesn't work at all if you are pregnant!);
* Be more available to my family;
* Be more organised (again no guarantee but dreams are free);
* Travel more;
* Write more
There's a reason why I write this which will soon be revealed. Change has been in the wind for a while. It's all good and all positive. I am tired of being tired. It is time to prioritise some things and GET REAL! for my sake and my family's.
I had to take a week off school this week as I was tired, stressed and feeling really rundown. Couple that with abdominal pains yesterday and last night, two hours sleep and lots of assignments due, I really needed to slow down. And so I did. Sat on the couch, watched "House" my favourite DVD series with Hugh Laurie starring as a Doctor with a brain and wit, drank copious cups of tea and did some light reading. I am starting to feel replenished. I need too. I don't want to be grumpy mum and wife. I am committed to self-care during this pregnancy, need to in fact, for my sanity's sake. It always seem simpler to see how others should live but I need this so much. To live at my own pace, surrounded by supportive and loving family and friends, and avoiding stress. Not hard with a great husband and a couple of kids big enough to fend for themselves with the basics.
How about you? Are you doing what you need to be doing these days? Are you taking care of your essential needs? Do you need to reassess your environments and commitments so that you are living your life FOR YOU AND YOURS? If you had more time .... what would you do?