Te Aho Mano / A Thousand Strands. The Engine Room, 2017

Te Aho Mano was a site specific show, using existing works as well as addressing the space of the College of Creative Arts at Massey University. It’s an art school with a lot of hunger for feminist thinking and discussion. I wanted to offer drawings and sculpture I made in India, looking at the craft actions and feminisms I encountered and learned there. I also ran discussions and workshops inside that altered, softened, expressive space. I took in many books from my bookshelf, and created an open research space in the entrance. In one of our intersectional feminisms discussion sessions, we used these to read to one another, and shared our own writing.

Asia New Zealand install video

Te Aho Mano detailSoft hanging formemail two more female bodiesHanging paintingSelf portrait 2016 and abstractI see myself trying to get born and abstractOpen Rib BreathOpening breath 1350mm x 900mm pastel charcoal and paint on hand made paper Sept 2015

What if I put flowers on my threads?  Explosions of determined blooming are happening here.  It cannot be prevented.  I am unable to be held down – no matter my threads unknown.  No matter my unstructured pepehā.  Both fragility and grit go together.  These are my karanga.  When I stand mate wahine on the paepae (on the border) I am an open thread to the world of te pō.  I am walking fearlessly in a place not everyone can go.  I can travel to the darkness…and back.

What if I cannot build?  What if I cannot make myself stand?  What if sticks and stones have broken my bones/my iwi/kōiwi?  I have cut my hair in grief.  A thousand strands have fallen to the earth and from them grew all of the colours.  Flight has wings.  My moko kauae.  Tāwhirimātea is the unstoppable force of nature who cares not that you disagree, that you dislike.  In the topknot.  The threads I have dropped are ladders from you to me and from me to you.  Hine.

Māwhero came from the first woman.  Her cheeks were it.  Her breasts were it.  Her womb sheltered it.  It is te ara, the pathway.

By Anahera Gildea

Sculptures Te Aho ManoDSC_8507DSC_8510

I also collaborated with Anahera Gildea, who made a written and spoken five part poem in response, that played in the space:

Anahera Gildea (Ngāti Raukawa-ki-te-tonga, Ngāi te Rangi, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Āti Awa, Kāi Tahu) is a writer, performer and ‘artivist’.  She welcomes working with difficult questions and tries to move through her life at the ‘speed of creativity’. Her first book ‘Poroporoākī: Weaving the Via Dolorosa’ was published by Seraph Press in 2016.  She holds a BA in Art Theory, graduate diplomas in psychology, teaching and performing arts, and a Masters degree in creative writing from Victoria University.

Our band also made a sound piece in the space. One night we played in there, with the strong desire to make big, loud sound in that space that is often so quiet. It’s a gallery, like many, which is white, with lots of concrete and hard spaces. When I was installing, I felt like if I could only make it feel softer, that would be an achievement. I also wanted to provide encouragement to those studying. To be as big as you are, as loud, as difficult and complicated. It’s our audio guide, Band Sensations calls to you: