Sunday, May 11, 2008

settling in for winter ...

Things have been quiet here in our home, understandably so. There is a buzz if you are with the boys, they are excited to have a new sibling on the horizon. Quietly I tread, listening to my own inner voice and taking one day at a time. Of every seven days, I have maybe three where I am well enough to leave my bed and venture out, even if for a half day. I struggle through each meal knowing I will feel worse if I don't eat, but eating is the last thing my stomach wants to do. There is an upside. About ten o clock every evening I nearly feel like myself and so have an appetite. I stand up and the world doesn't spin.

We have managed to inject a few adventures on those days when all is well. We hosted our family here recently, and had a jolly time all around. My two nieces and even my nephew loved sewing and quickly dived into my supplies. On our second to last day they were a little production line, making felted teddy bears and my eldest niece sewing skirts and a dress for herself. I wish I could do that.

It got me thinking how different girls are. They love shopping. They love making things. They love talking. They are a little freer with their feelings and thoughts.

Boys are lovely but I do miss female company some days. Especially when I have just finished knitting a new design or sewing or experimenting.

That's where art school comes in for me. I enjoy the feedback and inspiration that comes from being around other creative souls. Given my current situation, I am not as driven as I was, preferring a gentle route, an enjoyable journey and the end gain, to finish my year well and SANE.

My motivation has changed to. In some ways, I was externally driven to produce works that are marketable, up to exhibition standards, etc, etc. However being pregnant makes one introspective, and my work is now (and I think always has been anyhow) something along the following lines ... "Footprints for my children and their future generations. Creating treasures that will help them navigate the world, understand their origins and give them a hope for the future."

Here are some photos from recent times...

LEVANA TEXTILES ... A trip to a textile manufacturer in Levin (one hour north of Wellington) was somewhat interesting. Here is a large cotton reel. Hundreds of these spin and weave to create fabric. Not really my cup of tea, but still, gave me an understanding of fabric production here in New Zealand, especially on a large scale. We couldn't take photos inside the plant which was a shame cause there were some great opportunities, however respect for that.

Another 30 minutes north and this old guy showed us around the flax mill museum, demonstrating an archaic machine that would strip ANYTHING (and to think a man had to stand under this noisy beast to keep the machine unblocked!!!). It was a thorough tour but I was busting for the loo and didn't want to be rude. I nearly peed my pants. Didn't know I was pregnant at the time, so that explains that!

My class colleagues ... Carol, Agilau, Chris, Joan and tutor Deb.
Me and my sample of muka flax. I love the golden colours. I am drawn to natural fibres.
My colleague Billee, and her amazing wardrobe. Billee is a senior student, a practising artist and a prolific one at that. She is always whipping up skirts, tops, ... you name it. Check out the feather she stitched to her cap. She's amazing.

I mentioned I joined the local Vaini Tini, the Cook Island women's sewing group to learn the traditional art form of tivaevae. Here is Mama Vaine, my mentor and her mokopuna. She whip out the fabric, pulled out a rough old plastic bag, cut in a pattern freehand and created two cushion covers for me to practise on.

Everything is done by feel. No patterns, no fancy equipment. This is as raw as it gets.
Carol, my fellow textile colleague joined me the week after. She was great, laughing with the mama's and taking their jovial banter with ease. Cook Island woman can be fierce, being a matriarchal society, but if you win their hearts, they are generous and loving.
My applique tacked down. A quick lesson in embroidery and the yellow stitching begins.

My eldest son's skills improve but with wet weather they are restricted somewhat. Nevertheless, they are so keen, my youngest has already worn out his skateboard and is patiently awaiting his new one next pay day.


We had a lovely visit. A quick photo outside our home. My mother-in-law weaves her own bags. My brother in law Marcus and his kids, and my boys.


No visit is ever complete to Wellington without a trip to Te Papa. Here I stand in front of a replica of the founding document of relations between indigenous peoples of Aotearoa and the British government, Te Tiriti O Waitangi. A document that was not upheld, led to many grievances and continues to be the founding grievance of many peoples of this nation.

What is it about little collections in boxes? I love them. I have always loved museums because they are all about collecting. This little medicine box was onboard a ship.
Isn't it delicious? Truly, these sorts of things make me drool. Perhaps why I was drawn to creating my own Taonga box last year. In fact, I am positive. It's the magpie in me.
Some wonderful examples of Cook Island sewing on these cushions in the education space in the Pacific Island section.
My eldest son sits in front of this beautiful ngatu (Tongan bark cloth) strumming on a ukelele while his father, uncle and the younger boys played on the Tokiri (Cook Island drums). How cool is that!
One of my favourite artists is John Pule. I was stoked to see a collection of his ink drawings on display alongside many other famous Pacific Island artists. What is it that I am drawn to? The 'collection' of small images, the narratives, the simple colour palettes of his work (often monochromatic) and his ability to bring a lost art (hiapo) forward into a modern context. Plus he comes from the same island (Niue) as my father-in-law.

So as a textile student I am drawn to this piece of contemporary art. Not a frock, rather a concept encapsulated in a frock. This designer is also inspired by Pule's work and this is a collaborative piece Doris Du Pont and John Pule.
Detail. The simplicity of the images keeps it tribal. A lot like my doodles and sketches in my art journals.

Another of my favourite artists, Sofia-Tekela Smith. I was stoked to see so many artists on display. These are just a few of my many photos I took that day. Definitely worth a look see if you are in town!
The blurb
ome random photos of treasures I spotted that day.
A classic lavalava design.

Hinaki - fishing net.
Artifacts of objects I recently drew from books. To see them up close and in person was the icing on the cake.
A small replica of a vaka (outrigger canoe) and some small treasaures. Ooh lah lah.
A fine handwoven fan, possibly from the Pandanus plant which is prolific in the Pacific Islands.
There was a wall covered in these vintage images of dusky maidens and savage warriors. I think they are beautiful.


I found a history of a man from Rai'iatea in Tahiti called Tupaia who toured with Captain Cook on his voyages. Tupaia was a priest who travelled to New Zealand and was able to help as a translator as Maori and Tahitian language is very similar. Tupaia was also an artist and rendered drawings such as that below. Rai'iatea is where my husband's grandfather came from. These all help me form research for my 'footsteps' for my children. Still I have no solid project in mind, but slowly things are coming together. This year is going to be based solidly on research and textile exploration. Creating a body of work is another story. That is still a matter of wait and see.

Here is Nanny Pari and her mokopuna - Jacina, Marcus, Marcus, Maia and Naomi. Yes we have two boys called Marcus, and of course my husband's brother is also Marcus, so very interesting having three Marcus's in one space. You call one and three turn around. This giant whakairo - carving is at the top of the stairs of the main entrance to Te Papa.
Outside it was a typical cold, wet, overcast Wellington day. This bronze cast man stands facing the harbour - bare and yet bold. It is really a beautiful piece.

Me, outside on the wharf.
My big kid and I.
Yes, my youngest is conspicuously inconspicuous. So where was he? Trailing his pretty aunty around for the duration of their visit. Often seen holding her hand, snuggling up to her or in earnest discussion. He clung like a small shadow. He loves beautiful woman, and he's only five!

As each day passes, I gain more clarity. Keeping well is my main goal for now, being available for my kids and staying in touch with my husband. I knit my first winter scarf over the weekend after a workshop with felt artist Tracey White last week. It is composed of silk threads and bits out of my stash. I wore it to dinner Saturday night which was conveniently served at 9pm and desert at 10pm - when I am well able. I stuffed my face with roast beef and caramel profiteroles. Mmmmm.

Thank you for the emails and words of encouragement. I hope you are warm and well.

Finally Happy Mothers Day to my mum, Moana who is a constant friend and source of strength in my life. You are loved and valued more than words can convey. I love you Mum and honour you for your generosity and ongoing cheerleading in us kids lives. More than that, your faith in God is tried and true. We love you.


india flint said...

good to see you back! you've been missed...bighugs xxindie

Heather, said...

wow, so much information and such a beautiful family! Thank you for sharing all of the visual treasures.

mormar said...

That was an amazing trip for me...
thank you.
Glad you are back and hopefully feeling better

ArtPropelled said...

This post is like seeing piles of brightly wrapped presents under the xmas tree and not knowing which one to open first. How I have missed your wonderful, interesting posts!This blogging world opens so many doors.John Pule's work is delicious!(and Doris's dress in John Pule fabric soooo divine). The Tongaan bark cloth is amazing and the bronze cast man magnificent. Oh and the artefacts!!!! There are so many wonderful things to see. Thank you for sharing Rachelle. I think of you often and send positive vibes your way.

Lavinia said...

This is a most interesting post. So many unusual things to look at in these pics; we dont' have most of those things up here in the great white north. Everything is so fascinatingly different in that part of the world. My visit today was like a tour, thanks for sharing all that with us.

Continued good health for your pregnancy, and I found your words to your mother so touching, at the end of this post.