Dimensions of Ina
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Limited edition of 95 signed fine-art prints available on museum archival card. 840mm high x 479mm wide. Unframed prints shipped FREE in NZ, $35 international.
Original painting Sold, flashe (vinyl paint) on canvas, 1920 x 1220mm (incl antique black frame), 2017
I have re reinterpreted a 115 year old oil portrait by C.F. Goldie. I imagine threads of consciousness connecting to us via astral dimensions. Geometric symbols are luminous with ancient Maori spirituality.
For 13 years I’ve been painting contemporary Maori portraits. Goldie and Lindauer have been my inspirational leaders in this field. In the 19th and early 20th century, colonial artists were recording the noble and solemn faces of what they thought were a dying race.
There has since been a long gap in the tradition of Maori portrait painting. It is our generation who are picking up the baton again. Since the 1970’s there has been a renaissance of Maori culture and language. Now the responsibility rests in our hands to celebrate Maori as a living and vibrant people.
I modelled this portrait “Dimensions of Ina” on C.F. Goldie’s 1902 painting of Ina Te Papatahi. She was a niece of the Ngāpuhi chiefs Eruera Maihi Patuone and Tāmati Waka Nene. Both of whom were early signatories of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.
“Ina te Papatahi, A Ngāpuhi Chieftainess” by Charles Frederick Goldie, 1902
Her image has inspired me for over a decade. It has helped me to delve deeper into my own Maori whakapapa (lineage).
Although I’m not descended from Ina’s bloodline, I’ve felt her presence in my life. She reminds me of my own Ngati Porou tupuna (ancestors) on my mother’s side. The lines on her face and her character are now very familiar to me. As are her indelible markings of moko kauae (chin tattoo) and the way she smokes her pipe, like kuia (female elders) did in those days.
Ina is an archetype of a wise, old grandmother figure. As tangata whenua, she reminds me of being close to the land and to ancestral wisdom.
She embodies “Te Here Tangata,” which is an old phrase meaning “The Rope of Mankind.” It is an idea that connects all of us.
We can visualise a long line reaching into the the past, generation after generation, until the instant of creation, and on into the future. In our modern world of instant gratification and swift development, Te Here Tangata is a humbling concept.
To me, her pipe is a symbol of not taking our 21st century rules and ways of doing things too seriously. Her expression and countenance is dignified. But it’s as if her pipe, which is such a no-no in our society, is her giving us a little wink.
The gold triangles surrounding her portrait are based on tāniko and tukutuku designs. These traditional patterns are woven into the edges of fine garments and decorate panels on the walls of marae. They have a cosmic, sacred geometric quality. I think of Egyptian pyramids encoding messages about the cosmos. They also allude to triangular fractal patterns.
I imagine the rows of triangles are steps leading into deeper psychedelic dimensions. The word psychedelic is from Greek psyche - the mind, and dēlos - to make clear or manifest.
While painting this work I was thinking of the many realms or dimensions of Io, the supreme being in Maori cosmology. The dimensions of Io inspired the title for this work.
For me, Ina seems to be an ancestor from an astral dream-like realm. In this work she gives our dimension a transmission or message. What is that message? Well that is where the sacred mirror experience comes in. The viewer receives whatever download is relevant to them. What does her light reflect in you?
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