Wednesday, June 6, 2012

on the work table ...

I'm always intrigued by people's processes. My friend Nina's work table is always compelling, check out a work in progress HERE and her amazing blog ORNAMENTAL here. She makes beautiful narrative jewellery. In fact it was Nina that kick started my more intentional making several years ago when I stumbled across her work in a book and made contact with her online.  We've been corresponding for several year now and I'm still inspired by her 'eye', her magpie collections of interesting things (we are all gatherers folk like us), her poetic writing and her ability to take the everyday things around us and weave a beautiful tale. 

I'd always fiddle faddled around with stuff but her work brought into focus this idea of creating visual narratives. Layers of meaning using various materials. I am still playing about with bits and pieces to this day and was pleasantly surprised at the recent Handmade symposium to find that other people found it interesting as well. But then why should that surprise me? A good story is always welcome isn't it? 

I'm taking a few days R&R. We have just entered into winter here and that has always effected my moods. With the help of many people, we have been accomplishing a lot in the past month. I'm trying to be wise, to balance family life and everything else that's happening around me. I have enjoyed sitting here quietly stitching some little pieces inspired by a couple of postcards I picked up at Te Papa Museum on the weekend. 

I find that playing around and mulling through things is really helpful. I listen to audio books and am really enjoying Lisa Bevere's Lioness series having heard her speak recently in Wellington (some free ones HERE). I enjoy TED Talks too and Jill Bolte's talk  was really inspiring. A female scientist for a start is fascinating alone. Lots of interesting people with different ways of looking at things. I hope I never stop learning. And I've always loved books but don't have the time to sit and read like I used to. Thank goodness for podcasts and downloadables. 

I've always got a small project on me to add a few more stitches too. These are more light hearted things, restorative things. A few days to sit and mull and pray are exactly what this girl needs.

The red flag is Samoa who have also just celebrated  their 50th Jubilee of Samoan Independence on the 1st June.  My grandfather was Samoan, from the Grey family in Apia. The one to the right of course is the British flag in commemoration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

I picked these postcards up from the gift shop in Te Papa while I was working. There's lots of lovely work in there by New Zealand artists. Well worth viewing.

New Zealand's first flag, the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, was adopted before New Zealand became a British Colony. Chosen by an assembly of Maori chiefs in 1834, the flag was of a St George's Cross with another cross in the canton containing four stars on a blue field. (Wikipedia)

The second postcard is an interesting combination of the British flag and a hula skirt. One symbolises a conservative 'proper' institution, the other is designed to beguile and entertain. There is nothing more beautiful than a Pacific beauty doing the hula. 

I'm always inspired by the Pacific Collection. Having children of Niuean and Cook Island descent, means weaving my husband and I's heritage  into my narrative to create our story.If you go to Auckland Museum, the woman who helped display the Pacifica collection of artifacts including jewellery like this was sitting in my class last week. What a prize she was with all her knowledge. She also looked after the button collection. That has to be the best job in the world.  
Our country has had a bit of a jolt.  Tame Iti and his colleagues went to prison on charges of terrorism. While I don't advocate violence ever as a means of resolving conflict, I still believe the media and the justice and political system strong armed the whole case. I'm still astounded at the ignorance of those who call New Zealand home towards its indigenous peoples and their way of living. His tribe never signed the Treaty. They have always seen themselves as an independent state for goodness sake. 

If I lived in China, I would have to speak Chinese and roll with Chinese laws. If I lived in your home, I'd have to roll the way you roll and negotiate my way with you. Here, many of our people have to fight to hold onto their culture. And its awful to watch them labelled as trouble makers and have all their weaknesses flaunted as an excuse to why 'our' way is not acceptable. 

My heart is heavy. I know God hates His children fighting and frankly, I feel that in this case, we were bullied into submission again. A case of 'sit down Maori boy and know your place'. How could a few Maori fight the police and the legal system? It was stacked and lots of information was withheld, creating even more public confusion and feeding the fear and racism that is alive and kicking in certain sectors of our society.

Political views from a Christian woman who stands in both worlds, well, I'm just a complete contradiction on all fronts hey. I don't speak Te Reo and some would say that disqualifies me from my right to speak on behalf of Maori. I am a Christian, and some would say that's a white man's religion and it killed more people than it helped historically. And I'm a woman. Actually, that's seen as a strength these days. Anyway, so what. I'm no expert and I don't profess to be qualified to have anything other than my own opinion and feelings about these things but commonsense tells me that when they started throwing around loaded words like 'terrorist' and bombs, well, game over isn't it?

I'm all good. My Nan told me my skin, my round face, my flat nose and big lips, and the blood running through my veins qualify me. I wish you knew her. She was so strong. I remember as a little girl, she would head from house to house in our small settlement recruiting for Mana Motuhake party. She was a physical woman too, one of my favourite memories is her nailing down the down the roof on our little house in a gale storm. Come on! And I'm her mokopuna, she raised me and my brothers. There was no way I was ever gonna be a quiet woman. Nina Simone's song is a solid favourite of mine cos it reminds us all we all got something to be grateful for. 

I sidestep politics simply because I know that its a waste of time expecting a small group of people (politicians) to bring solutions to the masses. They only get 4-12 years to make a difference, we have our whole lives. 

 I believe the masses, that's us, need to find our own solutions. Forming friendships, communities that are outward looking, caring for one another and resourcing one another with what we already have. Simpler lifestyles, recycling things we no longer use to other folk, things like furniture and clothing, making stuff, sharing, swapping, and visiting the shops less. Being resourceful and yes, going without. My husband and I have not bought any new clothes for ourselves for the longest time. We live on a single income and its a squeeze but it means there's a parent at home for the kids. Its a simple way of life we live, not easy and sometimes it gets tight, but its our way of taking care of our family within our means. I appreciate everyone has to find what works for them too. That's the beauty of having freedom to make one's own choices.

Don't get me wrong, we love luxuries like op shopping, a good coffee and every couple of years we enjoy staying in a hotel. Due to the distances we travel, we use two cars but our kids walk to and from school when the weather allows, and for my eldest, that's over an hours walk. And inexpensive housing, there's people working on affordable solutions who I salute. I love Habitat for Humanity, they are an incredible solution.

I don't like those stickers with your name on it. You know, when you go to conferences etc so I stitched my own. I worked on this one while sitting through an invigorating church meeting last night. It was only this morning that I realised that my name isn't Ahipara Girl is it! So I'm sitting here laughing at myself and have no problem admitting that a few day's rest are in order. xxx


Check out all these monkeys you've made!!! Check out our Facebook page HERE and see photos of all the different kinds of monkeys that have been created by so many people and most rewardingly, see some of the kids who've received them. x
Olivia and Elijah took the first batch of sock monkeys to Starship Hospital in Auckland last week. FIFTY monkeys for fifty kids in hospital. Well done everyone. They were absolutely gorgeous, all with different personalities and quirks, just like sock monkeys should and all razzled up in just three weeks.

Our page on Facebook 'The Great Sock Monkey Challenge' has 300 followers already in its first month. We were interviewed by a lovely reporter from the Dominion Post (you can read it HERE) so hope that continues to inspire makers and newbies to join us in our quest to get 1000 monkeys out children who have a critical of long term illness. The photos of the kids with their monkeys have started rolling in on our page and its just wonderful. Cancer sucks. Sick kids break my heart and stints in hospital with my boys over the years for minor things (by comparison), I want to respond with something positive.

My friend Olivia and I are sold out to meeting our challenge. On the face of it, it doesn't seem much (its a pair of socks and some stuffing after all) until you see the pictures of the kids who receive their monkeys. And with all the crafty makers we know, its seems an obvious solution to us. 

Our first free sock monkey making workshop is happening on the 16 June at Holland Road Yarn Company in Petone.  We will be running more so make sure to give Tash a ring and get your name on the list.

Making monkeys is lots of fun. and Monkeys have literally taken over our home. Here's a few of mine that went to Handmade 2012 to share the love and promote our challenge. 

This little guy was made for my son from a pair of his outgrown socks. We only use new materials for our hospital bound monkeys but you can make them for your kids from all those odd socks that come out of the laundry, one of the world's mysteries really how two go in and only comes out. See below for instructions, they are a simple and satisfying project and gift. xxx


 I've attached a tutorial below for you if you would like to make one and can't make our workshops, or just want to get started. You only need a pair of socks, some fibre fill and basic sewing skills. Check your seams are strong as are button eyes. Although a sewing machine is used here, its not compulsory. I've made lots completely handstitched. All sock monkeys can be sent 151 Cuba Street, Wellington. Cheers. x



Steffi said...

You are so creative and talented!Great blog!

ArtPropelled said...

"There was no way I was ever gonna be a quiet woman" ..... Lol... You go girl! Your troop of monkeys is making me grin from ear to ear. Whoops! Whenever I say monkey the whole family arrives at my window... and here they are swinging into the garden as I type.

Jacinda said...

Love your post. I agree with what you have to say about the whole media and justice system debarcle.Also I so often feel like a swag of contradictions, nice to hear you ar etoo. I'll be carrying around the image of your Nan on the roof to brighten my day. thanks. beautiful stitching.

Joan - South Island, New Zealand. said...

Love your sock monkey's. I could make some for my grandchildren. I have six of them! That would be a few socks.