place ~ connection
“Haere mai, nau mai. Haere mai, kuhu noa mai ki ngā hūhā o Ruawehea ”
The body of work and research presented explores Māori and Samoan concepts surrounding the idea of Tūrangawaewae (a place to stand). These include concepts of place, space, belonging, relationships, non-human others, vā/wā, narrative, kaupapa and personal experience.
Through observation, memory, and conversations with human and non-human others, these ideas moved through mediums such as photography and drawing throughout the research process. A sculptural practice was then developed using hard materials, including metals and concrete, to convey the hihiri (felt energy) and mauri (life force) of the places and stories being represented.
Thinking about ideas of representation, collections and displays in regards to cultural objects, these concrete tiles are carved with images of place and presented in a way which is reflective of artefact and stone displays within the museum context.
The tiles stand upright to be viewed, much like photographs, and invite viewers to look closer, bend down and interact face-to-face with these places.
The name 'pōria' means 'to weigh down' in Māori, referring to the idea of place as grounding within the concept of Tūrangawaewae. These places are my grounding: in memory, I can feel them, and this strengthens the relationship I have with others and Papatūānuku.
Drawing on the idea of pou as carved living bodies/beings, and mauri stones acting as an anchor/source of spirit and reverberation, these concrete blocks are sculpted with images of place in an attempt to instil the blocks with the mauri of the places depicted.
Through the anonymity of the places, they become one within the stone, collapsing physical separations and merging into a singular body. These places are special to me and I hold them dearly in my memory. Whether in Whiritoa, Whangamatā, Matautu Lefaga, or my backyard in Rānui, these spaces are one within my being and become one within these pou.
The rings of this chain are stamped with the words of a story told by my nana, Va'asa Williams, with each ring sized according to her ring finger. In this story, she talks about Paradise Beach in Lefaga, from where she originates. She talks about her father and his role as translator and Samoan narrator on the set of the film, 'Return to Paradise’, that gave the beach its name, as well as her background and title within Lefaga.
This work is based on ideas of continuation, talalasi (multiple stories/perspectives), cycles, bonds, and the importance of memory and personal narrative within Pacific story-telling.