Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tribal Banner Workshop

Happy New Year. There's been lots of wonderful things happening. We are all tanned and have enjoyed our few months of sunshine, trying to store lots of good memories before the cold weather sets in again. I love to batton down the hatches for two months (Dec-Jan) so I can solely focus on my family. We spent this year at home truly resting and spending time with friends. We feel refreshed. I always love this season most of all. Its like we get back to what is truly important. Spending time together, talking, hanging out, sleeping enough, eating lots of yummy things.
I've enjoyed spending time with my dear friend Shelly and her family who are creating their own home from mostly recycled things. It was a real treat to visit the new house for Christmas dinner. (Click on her name to go have a peek around).
A bit of good news is that Melissa has moved to Wellington. She is a real inspiration and her blog Tiny Happy is one of my all time favourites. She has already discovered Asia Gallery and its inspiring to see what she has made from old kimono.
After a great break over Christmas , I turned my creative energy towards creating a tribal banner for a workshop to be held in a couple of weeks at Pataka. It has a distinctive Polynesian ethnic feel with a bit of nana in there. I'm hoping we can create a bit of a stitching circle because I love the sharing that people do when we are all stitching by hand.
I used:
some old black kimono fabric from my favourite shop Asia Gallery;
plain unbleached calico as a base;
some of my wedding siapo (tapa bark cloth);
buttons I've found with the kids on our beach walks;
a doiley and an old wool blanket that I thrifted;
and vintage styled Pacific cotton fabric as used in e'lavalava.
Techniques include woodblock printing, applique, handstitching, embroidery, freehand designs, etc.
The whole banner is based on identity. I used the siapo because it reminds me of my Pacific roots and my extended Pacific Island family. Its also my wedding siapo but it got damaged several years ago. Its nice to find a new way to incorporate this unique handmade gift.
A 'karanga' is the call sent out by a woman who stands at the front of the marae calling the manuhiri (visitors) onto the marae. It serves to welcome establish identity of both the turangawaewae (the land) and the tangata whenua (people of the land) and those coming onto the marae. It is the initial part of a formal process where two people become one, a simplistic definition if ever I heard one.
I imagined this hanging where visitors can see it in our home, with visual symbols of our tribal, ethnic and cultural background. Likewise other cultures can use whatever textiles they identify with. The underlying concept was that in our home, once people cross the threshold, they are no longer visitors but become 'whanau' (family). We become one people with both the rights and the responsibilities that entails.

Of the two I made, this one is more tribal as it features Niuean symbols. My husband and my children are Niuean, and hiapo designs appear in my work regularly.

The village where my husband's father originated from.

A design that appears on both my hand tattoo and in hiapo.

This second banner is more generic with less reference to Niue and hiapo. Instead there are elements of my grandmother there. The doiley represents her love for crochet which I have picked up in the last five years. I adore crochet circles and stones.

I enjoy the methodical process of handstitching and embroidery.

The 'cross' symbolises my faith and also love, in the form of kisses above.

The buttons are found from walks along my beach with my sons. It was fun to have a project to embellish with buttons without it feeling twee.

Hand block printed with a pop of red running stitch. I enjoyed this clean colour palette. The handblocks come from Trade Aid and with their particularly tribal designs handcarved, its been fun to use them in this project.

The yellow floral explosion of colour from the Pacific e'lavalava fabric on the reverse.

I'm looking forward to new challenges this year both as a mother with all three children in school and kindy now, as well as a being a creative. I also welcome the opportunity to contribute back into my community. If you are interested in a workshop, feel free to contact me in the comments section.

Posted by Picasa


ArtPropelled said...

Loving the tribal banner, Rachelle. Hope the workshop went well.

india flint said...

this is a beautiful piece [and a splendid idea]. good luck with the workshop[s]!