MARTIN DE RUYTER/Things
The Suter Art Gallery director Julie Catchpole with Stevei Houkāmau’s uku (clay) works in the exhibition Ira Tangata Ira Atua. In the foreground are ‘whakapapa chains’ crafted by Houkāmau that hook up men and women to their earlier and long run.
Stevei Houkāmau loves to inform persons she gets to tattoo Papatūānuku – mother earth – just about every working day.
“The 1st type of tā moko are the cracks in the earth,” the Wellington artist states.
Houkāmau’s solo exhibition Ira Tangata Ira Atua is becoming staged at The Suter Artwork Gallery in Nelson right up until Oct 2 and is a selection of uku (clay) performs which investigate whakapapa (genealogy) via the revival and reinterpretation of traditions of her tīpuna (ancestors).
The exhibition reveals the connections concerning persons, uku and Papatūānuku.
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Houkāmau (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-a-Apanui) was a top-degree softball player who represented New Zealand and played in the United States for two many years right up until she returned to New Zealand adhering to the September 11 terrorist assaults.
Using a modify in path, she enrolled in the Māori visible art and style and design faculty Toihoukura. Owning a fascination with tā moko (Māori tattoo) and tatau (Pacific Island tattoo), she experienced meant to more examine tā moko till she produced a love for uku from her mentor Wi Taepa, Baye Riddell and the late Manos Nathan of the Māori clayworkers collective Ngā Kaihanga Uku.
“I went from getting a tā moko artist to not becoming equipped to set clay down.”
Houkāmau has been a comprehensive-time artist now for just about two decades and utilizes clay as her medium but does not describe herself as a potter or ceramic artist. As a substitute, she is an uku artist or “moko Papatūānuku”.
She has identified clay “grounds me as a person”, although her love of tā moko and tatau is included in her operates, which are pretty in depth with their unique carved surfaces.
Houkāmau suggests her exhibition gives a watch into her as a man or woman, her whakapapa, and the worth of the whenua (land) of her family members from Wharekahika/Hicks Bay on the East Cape, as effectively as checking out whakapapa in normal and the significance of the land and water.
She has drawn inspiration from a selection of sources – crafting vessels or reviving or re-imagining things this kind of as pōtaka tā (spinning tops), jewellery and tattooing applications as she explored whakapapa via distinctive aspects these types of as pastimes, artwork creating and adornment.
The exhibition, she says, looks at not only who we are, but who we ended up and who we will be.
Showcased prominently in the exhibition entrance are “whakapapa chains” that join individuals to their previous and future, and Houkāmau hoped they would prompt people to mirror on their have whakapapa.
Though the primary medium is clay, Houkāmau also uses other materials from Papatūānuku this kind of as harakeke, pounamu and feathers.
She does not use glazes, preferring how gentle and shade is captured by grooves in the performs.
Suter director Julie Catchpole explained she was thrilled the Suter was in a position to phase the exhibition.
“People are just awestruck with the do the job, primarily as they begin to process just how a great deal do the job there is in all of these.”