This skateboard is one of three boards I purchased almost two years ago. They quickly went on the back burner because the content I planned for them was still a little raw for me to portray, but now, I feel it is the right time to put one out to the world. Here is the story behind this piece Te Whenua me Te Rangi or “Earth and Air”
Originally this painting was intended to portray our hardship and journey trying to conceive. In a way, it was meant to be cathartic or healing and somehow gather my thoughts in how I felt about our difficulties trying to bring a baby in to the world. But, it didn’t turn out that way, and I found it to be something I wanted to avoid as much as possible, I just wasn't ready to compartmentalise my thoughts in that moment. So, now that we have a healthy little baby after 4 years of trying, I found I was able to face this piece again and am so grateful we have our gorgeous son, Carter Te Kaha.
Why skateboards? Mainly because I love street art and its accessibility, and have followed that movement for a long time and have always thought it would be cool to paint a skateboard. A skateboard quite literally represents ‘movement’ or ‘traveling’ and so it speaks to that 'journey' aspect of the piece.
The Ngāpuhi kite motif in this piece represents “Air” and the space this earth desperately needed to breathe while we have been in lockdown. Also, it is the wind that picks us up, whatever that might mean to others. To me, its just that expression of exhaling and how good that feels after so long of holding your breathe. In this painting you can see this uplifting movement of the kite to represent that.
The orange peony flower, the green colour palette and the carved silver fern are the “Earth” elements of this piece. The Peony which speaks to my Japanese heritage as seen in my previous works but in this case in particular is placed over her puku (tummy) area in particular as a symbol of fertility which at the time meant a lot to us because we were having trouble trying to conceive. To bring the "Earth" concept back to the present time in this COVID19 environment, it is also a portrayal of my thoughts and concerns about our whenua/land and actually how awesome it has been to see nature get the break it needed from all the negative human impact.
The word "whenua" in the title of this painting also means placenta in Māori. My Māori identity caused me some inner turmoil because I was trusting my body to do its thing naturally (since there were no medical issues preventing it) and the thought of going to see a fertility specialist scared me. I knew the fertility procedures were quite invasive and in Māori culture a woman's puku (tummy) is very tapu (sacred) so I didn't want some stranger invading that space. However, after much research and discussion within our whānau, we decided that maybe it was an avenue we should explore, and thankfully after quite a few procedures we were successful. This isn't to say that the journey was pleasant or one I would run back in to again but it helped us in this journey, so for that I am grateful.
So, as a piece that was originally intended to portray a hardship and work through some deeper heartache, it turned out to exhibit feelings about issues and concerns bigger than me that we are facing in the world right now. It is a celebration piece. A celebration of life, and the world we live in.