Possibly the most visually striking way to express your connection to your heritage is through facial tattoo – moko kauae and moko kanohi. I’m interested in finding out why Maori are embracing this ancient tradition in our contemporary world and documenting the diverse faces and stories of our people through a new series of portrait paintings…
Magazine: Nati Link
Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou – Connecting Our Iwi
April 2014 | Issue 05
Main Article: Ko Waiapu Te Awa – Restoring the Waiapu River
ON THE COVER
“Ko Waiapu Te Awa”, Sofia Minson, oil on canvas, 2006. Sofia is an artist of Ngati Porou descent, and is profiled on page 24 of this issue.
Page 24 – 25
“Nati Artist seeks men and women with facial Moko for new portrait series”
Sofia Minson is the artist behind this month’s cover image, “Ko Waiapu Te Awa”, a creative representation of our sacred river. Sofia is of Ngati Porou descent through her tipuna May Hermanson (grandmother) and great-grandmother Matire Te Horowai from Waipiro Bay. Sofia is developing a new series of artworks and needs your help to make it a reality.
A new series of contemporary Maori portraits by Sofia Minson uses Western figurative painting to celebrate the mana and diversity of the modern face of Maori. “We’re creating positive images of our people to share with each other and with the wider world for hopefully centuries to come” says the artist.
For 10 years Minson’s bold portrait and mythological landscape paintings have been exhibited and collected in the USA, Europe and throughout New Zealand. The 29-year-old Auckland-based painter has won three national art awards including the Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award in 2005 and is a four-time finalist in the Adam Portraiture Awards.
One of her aims is to help revive the the art of Maori portrait painting, which has arguably been in limbo since the likes of Goldie and Lindauer. While she is inspired by their works, she says her portraits “are far from Goldie’s recordings of a vanishing race” and are intended to fill an important niche for her generation. “Nowadays we find that it is not so easy to define who or what is Maori” says the artist of mixed Ngati Porou, Swedish, English and Irish heritage. “But one thing’s for sure, our culture is alive and continues to evolve.”
Having spent much of her childhood in Samoa, Sri Lanka and China, on returning to New Zealand as a teenager, painting enabled Minson to further explore the variety of cultures and faiths she lived amongst overseas as well as reconnect with her homeland and her mixed Maori and European roots.
“I enjoy collaborating with other artists and can’t wait to collaborate with the public on this new series of portraits” says Minson, who has been featured in documentaries such as Canvassing The Treaty in 2010, which followed six artists as they deepened their knowledge about the Treaty of Waitangi and created cross-cultural collaborative artworks together at Te Tii marae. She has also been commissioned to do large-scale public artworks, in February 2014 painting an enormous portrait of musician Tiki Taane on a 40ft shipping container on Queen’s Wharf in downtown Auckland.
Minson is particularly keen to hear from those who have Ta Moko Kanohi and/or Moko Kauae – visually striking expressions of a person’s inner connection to their heritage. She asks “if you would like to help make a positive contribution to our people by sitting for a portrait, or know someone who might, please email me at Sofia@SofiaMinson.com, I’d love to hear from you!”
Sitters will receive a complimentary, signed, limited edition print of the finished painting for their whanau. The artist will meet with the sitter first and get to know their story, then she will briefly photograph them.
SOFIA MINSON CONTACTS:
OPPOSITE PAGE IMAGES:
TOP Sofia Minson with her painting, The Other Sister, which is part of an ongoing Contemporary Maori Portrait Series. Sofia is interested in painting creative and inspiring Maori who are helping to evolve today’s culture through their own artforms or roles in society. The portrait subject actually is Sofia’s sister, Tess.Both siblings share Ngati Porou, Swedish, English and Irish ancestry.
BELOW LEFT Tame Iti by Sofia Minson
BELOW RIGHT Turumakina by Sofia Minson
Posted by artist Sofia Minson from NewZealandArtwork.com
New Zealand Maori portrait and landscape oil paintings