Gabrielle Belz, Nga Mihi ki nga Kuia Tupuna
The three works have been created between 1999 and 2020, each a response to the mana we hold as a ‘whole’ person. The works were selected to fulfil an expression of Whakaoho – to be alert, awake, in this case, to each person’s presence. The works acknowledge difference, and the importance of inclusion.
With last year’s Massey upheaval regarding femininity in mind, ‘Ka Tangi nga Manu’ is loosely based on a pare, and its purpose to keep those within the whare protected. Birds, were figured in place of manaia or human figures, as I thought how cultures frame words for men and women, – ‘ducky’ ’my cock’ ‘rooster’ ‘ chick’, ‘ my dove’ ‘ partridge’ ‘bird’ etc, in English can be used as slang, cherishing, affectionate, and/or derogatory, diminishing terms .
‘Manu’ means ’bird’ but when used in reference to a person or people retains their mana and connotations of rangatiratanga. The artwork incorporates a variety of birds, each bird with their own traits and attributes providing a richness and balance – and I wanted to return that balance to those ‘manu’ who were prevented from participation.
The strength and richness we have as a people is dependent on inclusiveness, of being prepared to listen and exchange points of view rather than being ex-clusive. – A response to the 2019 failure at Massey to discuss a wider view of the feminine.
Medium: Reduction linocut on Harakeke paper, wood, shell, gold and copper foil –Constructed work