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Land, Land, Island


Land, Land, Island is a body of work that explores my personal connections to the landscapes of my homeland (Aotearoa, New Zealand), as well as the broader concept of a national identity based on land and landscape.  The root system for these ideas included research into the colonisation of New Zealand (as well as Australia, where I currently live), and the attempt to decolonise through education and revitalisation of First Nations traditions. Among these wide-spanning ideas of tradition, decolonisation, education, and revitalisation, is the idea of the self and how an individual may feel a sense of connection or belonging to land or landscape, an environment, a culture, or peoples. These works aim to raise questions about contemporary cultural issues, working with a medium that uses earth as resource.

A series of large, dark but warm-toned vessels titled Receivers take their forms from ancient big-bellied cooking pots and storage jars. Shells found in Aramoana and Karaka Bay in New Zealand peek out of the dark forms, glowing and shimmering amidst black oxide and terra sigillata surfaces. The isolated beach of Aramoana (on the Otago Peninsula, in Aotearoa’s South Island) is spangled and speckled with thousands of zethalia zelandica shells. Seeing thousands of these tiny spiral shells en masse, their encircling peaks symbolised tiny little aerials to me, like miniature signal connections to the natural world, hence the title Receivers.

Land Land Island Composition is a delicate rendering of hand-pinched vessels, flowing from blue to green with the use of cobalt oxide among the layers or reactive glazes. Their forms tumble out into their own kind of landscape, fading between cobalt and copper carbonates, with remnants of shells or sand utilised as tools in the firing process.

The Eye & The Eye II use locally found fragments of paua, mussel, and oyster shells to render a shimmering, reflective surface. The Eye is made from shell fragments sourced from my hometown beach in Seatoun, Wellington, whilst The Eye II is covered purely in paua fragments. The use of paua inlay in traditional Māori artefacts is considered taonga (Māori: treasured, highly prized). Valued for its meat and luminous shell, paua shell in Māori carvings is traditionally associated with the stars or whetū, the symbolic eyes of ancestors that gaze down from the night sky. 

An expanded version of Midden consists of 1500 hand-formed gestures and impressions of shells made from porcelain and stoneware clays. This work stemmed from research into the colonisation of Australia, research that started in 2020 and led me to visit ancient midden sites and aboriginal rock carvings near where I live in Sydney, Australia. A midden - being a historical site for eating and a gathering of community - consists of discarded shells, evidence of the presence of tribes and families, and their ways of living. This led to thinking about ways in which we currently leave evidence of our own presence through conscious gestures or through actions we may not be aware of, both in a positive sense and in a destructive, negative sense. Midden records both human gestures and natural gestures in each individual piece. Some pieces represent quick, responsive, or automatic gestures in clay, echoing the small, everyday bodily actions we make as we travel through life. Other Midden pieces represent the natural world and how we seem to deplete, diminish, and eradicate many resources that the Earth provides us with. The combination of human gestures and natural impressions attempt to highlight that our actions as a species are affecting the natural world. These destructive actions are ingrained and inherited from our ancestors, resulting in the dis-harmony we currently live in. I feel strongly that many current ways of thinking, living and working are unsustainable for us to live in harmony with the natural world and the recognition of traditional land and country. We can sustain forward-movement and quality of living without sacrificing so many critical aspects of our natural and indigenous histories. 

Aramoana Receiver is an experimental sculptural work constructed from found rock from Wānaka (South Island, Aotearoa) and zethalia zelandica shells from Aramoana. Karaka Receiver is made from another rock found on the shore of the alpine lake of Wānaka, with shells found in Karaka Bays. Both works involve a connecting of spirals through forms, alluding to perpetuity and interconnectedness, yet are weighted down by alpine rock anchors. These forms reference ancient Māori fishing anchors, and the use of local natural materials in the craftsmanship of survival tools and practices. 



What does land or landscape mean to you?

What do you read or perceive in your local natural environment? 

What does the earth promise as a material element before it becomes a place of residence, an everlasting possession, or a site of conflict?

Land, Land, Island



The South (first, chronologically)

A sentimental journey

Green, then suddenly sunlight (sunlight or sung light?)

Carey’s Bay to Aramoana. Winding, deep green cliffs, still green water, green reflections. This deep green colours the entire memory.

Aramoana. A shoal. A white spit beach littered with tiny spiral shells; pearlescent, blush pink, brown, tawny, blue, black, oyster colours. En masse, I am overcome with the concept of perpetuity in their constant spirals. 

Hawea. Waterfall season. When ice from the glaciers melts and floods the falls.
Alpine quartz beaches with wisping willows rooted to the shoreline. 

West Coast streams: Solitude no. 1, and Solitude no. 2

Lindis Pass. Bare brown hills in golden sunlight. Wild wattle and lupins weave through streams and curving crevices and valleys of earth. 

Aoraki: Cloud Piercer

Aoraki Airglow. Airglow is a faint emission of light by a planetary atmosphere. The green airglow, fainter than zodiacal light, pervades the night sky from equator to pole. 

Shimmering, vibrating web of interconnectedness





Another sentimental journey

Taonga of Karaka Bays. For Karaka Receiver

Paua, pink mussels, spirals, fragments

And sea stars entangled on the black sand.



I-land. Also The Eye. I Eye. The individual I, discovered in the communal Land

Memories, with new experiences. Also sensations (or an essence). Traditions distilled and reiterated in new forms. Not with new meanings but with personal meanings, or personal readings, to express and reflect upon where the I belongs in the Land.

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