I found this footage of art judge Lilly Koltun commenting on my Maori oil portrait From Hikurangi to Hibernia, a finalist in New Zealand Portrait Gallery's 2008 Adam Portraiture Award.
About the artwork: From Hikurangi to Hibernia" describes a meeting of cultures, lands and histories. Sofia is affiliated with the Ngati Porou iwi (a tribe from the east coast of the North Island) and Hikurangi is the name of their sacred mountain. Hikurangi’s snow-capped peaks are pictured on the distant horizon. In contrast, Hibernia is the latin and poetic name for Ireland. Sofia is also of Irish heritage, with her full-blooded Maori great-grandmother marrying an immigrant Irishman in the late 19th century. In the background, Magestic Pouakai Eagles soar over the land. The remarkable native creatures with a wingspan of up to three meters went extinct in 1400 AD.
Before one’s eye is drawn to the surreal landscape aspect of this work, the Maori woman in the foreground is the dominant subject. She wears 1960’s western-style clothing and carries a kete (Maori flax bag). She was originally inspired by some old photos of the artist’s own whanau in a marae (maori meeting house) setting. The traditional carved wooden panel and the distant totem pole to her right suggest an ancestral presence that reminds the woman of her origins, her people and her land.
Glistening red and curving into a dark, shadowy centre is the native Kaka Beak flower, which grows from the vine creeping up the carving. This is Papatuanuku (mother earth) from which she was born. “From Hikurangi to Hibernia” illustrates a time when Maori were experiencing heavy Europeanization in New Zealand. The dreamscape nature of the work brings the subject out of time and place. Her origins, future and worldly influences all converge in an unearthly setting of golden light and cross-cultural style.
2008 Adam Portraiture Award judge Lilly Koltun described From Hikurangi to Hibernia as "a particularly touching portrait". She went on to say "what is particularly impressive about this work is the way in which Sofia has managed to combine a sense of realism and accuracy in the individual person with a sense that they are meditating and in a dreamland about their own past.
There is an interesting play between the realism of Emma and what she perhaps was meditating on - the family portrait. The colouring that's used both for Emma and for the space is so similar that she seems to become a part of her landscape and a part of those dreams of the past."
Posted by artist Sofia Minson from NewZealandArtwork.com
New Zealand Maori portrait and landscape oil paintings