My group exhibition featuring two of my surreal New Zealand landscape oil paintings, as well as art by Matt Gauldie, Michelle Bellamy and Trevor Askin is 12 – 26 November 2013. Come on down to Parnell Gallery 263 Parnell Rd to see the new artwork! Open seven days: Mon – Fri 9:30am – 5:30pm; Sat 10am – 4pm; Sun 11am – 4pm.
Here are the descriptions and stories behind my two new paintings:
Traditionally, Maori divided the natural world into realms ruled by various gods, one of whom is Tangaroa, god of the sea, who personifies the spirit of the ocean and is part of every creature that lives within its depths. The gods are the children of Ranginui (sky father) and Papatuanuku (earth mother) and are seen as the original ‘kaitiaki’ or ‘guardians’ of their realms.
This work honours Tangaroa as guardian of the oceans, and reminds us as humans of our own responsibility of ‘kaitiakitanga’ or ‘stewardship and protection’ of the vital life force (mauri) of all entities animate and inanimate within the whakapapa (genealogy) of the natural world.
Kaitiaki can also mean ‘guide’ and that has been Tangaroa’s other important role over the centuries with countless voyages of people from the Pacific and around the world coming to Aotearoa and calling this land their home. Many traditions mention that whales accompanied or guided the canoes on their journeys to Aotearoa. Tohunga (expert practitioners) responsible for navigation exercised their powers during storms, appealing to sea creatures to escort the canoes and shield them from the fury of a storm.
This painting depicts humpback whales breaching and swimming in the distance, they are at once guides and guardians to those journeying to Aotearoa – the land of the long white cloud. Living up to its namesake, moody great clouds hang heavy above distant mountain ridges. The highest double peak is Maunga Hikurangi, the sacred mountain of Sofia’s Ngati Porou iwi from the East Cape of the North Island.
“He Rises from the Riverbed”
840 x 1580mm Oil on canvas
God of the forest and progenitor of mankind Tane Mahuta, in the form of a giant, gnarled old kauri tree, rises from a surreal riverbed of boulders along with other elongated kauri, ponga ferns and nikau palms. Pouakai eagles – a native bird with the world’s largest wingspan of over 3 metres that went extinct c.1400 A.D. – soar through the forest acting as guardians. The prehistoric New Zealand forest is bathed in the first glow of Te Ao Marama or The World of Light, which in Maori creationary tradition came into being after T?ne separated earth and sky.
Long ago Ranginui (sky father) and Papatuanuku (earth mother) clung together in a close embrace and Tane was one of 70 sons born into the dark, confined realm between them. Yearning for more air, space and light in which to live, Tane braced his back against the earth and feet against the sky and pushed, separating his parents. Only in this new world of light could all other living things such as birds, forests and mankind, exist. Tane went on to fashion the first human; he adorned the heavens, and brought the baskets of knowledge, wisdom and understanding down from the sky to human beings.
In this work Tane stands strong, holding up the sky. The trees of the forest are intricately connected to each other via a delicate web of vines, representing visually the Maori belief of whakapapa or genealogy, which not only links people to their ancestors but also to all other living things, and to the earth and the sky, and it traces the universe back to its origins.
Posted by artist Sofia Minson from NewZealandArtwork.com
New Zealand Maori portrait and landscape oil paintings