Rongomau – The Art of Gareth Barlow

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2015 looks like an exciting year for me. And the reason for the excitement is largely responsible for the lack of posts lately. Although I am happy to do some commissions along the way, my main focus is on a solo show in Wellington next February. But don’t expect just carvings, the main focus of this exhibition is a completely different medium. Having said that, here’s a sneak peak at a carving still in progress that will be part of the exhibition. Stay tuned. Mauriora.

2015 looks like an exciting year for me. And the reason for the excitement is largely responsible for the lack of posts lately. Although I am happy to do some commissions along the way, my main focus is on a solo show in Wellington next February. But don’t expect just carvings, the main focus of this exhibition is a completely different medium. Having said that, here’s a sneak peak at a carving still in progress that will be part of the exhibition. Stay tuned. Mauriora.

Jun 7

Te Au

The largest and most powerful creatures on our planet, yet one of the most graceful and peaceful. The lessons that we should learn from the whale. Travels further on its own accord than any other, and yet the only disturbance they ever cause, is the gentle wake it leaves in its path.

Te Au - The Wake

Mauriora

Te Ngākau Atawhai (The Tender Hearted)

When I was asked to carve a taonga for a friend’s sister, there were two things she said to me that made the korero easy to come by. Firstly, she said that her sister loved pukekos. Secondly, her great, great, grandmother came out from UK on one of first 4 ships, clambered over the Port Hills, settled in Kaiapoi and started looking after Maori women in childbirth. They called her Granny even though she was younger than them. Mortality rate went down so they loved her.

Straight away, I knew what I was doing. Firstly, there is a symbol in Maori art called Pungawerewere, and it represents the beak of the pukeko in relationship to the legend of Tawhaki. The symbol also has another meaning, and is referred to as ritorito. The term rito refers to the heart of the harakeke flax bush were the outer leaves protect, or nurture the younger shoots until they are ready to flourish.

I am blessed to know members of the Hetet family in Waiwhetu who have adopted the ritorito as their family symbol. I have been privileged to experience their nurturing first hand.

So this piece represents the pukeko which has a contemporary ritorito symbol on each side of the beak. Nurturing of our young promote strength and harmony within the family unit. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help that family flourish. These are the sorts of people, people like my friend’s great, great, great grandmother, who are worth remembering.

Mauriora

Ariki.

Mauriora.

My trusty 4-ply jig. Nothing fancy, but has served me well for many years. It is a frustrating way to strap a piece with bits of cord winding around and tangling with each other, but in the end it’s a beautiful way to finish off your work.
Mauriora.

My trusty 4-ply jig. Nothing fancy, but has served me well for many years. It is a frustrating way to strap a piece with bits of cord winding around and tangling with each other, but in the end it’s a beautiful way to finish off your work.

Mauriora.

Little project on the bench at the moment. Hopefully finished soon, but a sneak peek for all you lovely followers.Mauriora.

Little project on the bench at the moment. Hopefully finished soon, but a sneak peek for all you lovely followers.

Mauriora.

Mauriora. One of the most beautiful words in the Maori language.

When I sign off most my posts with this word, I simply want to express my best wishes for your health and well being. But there is so much more to this word than that.

I wouldn’t be so bold as to try and sum up the essence of ‘Mauriora’ in one paragraph, or one carving, but this piece represents what I think is the most important element you can take from the word, Mauriora.

Mauri resides in everything. I liken it to a soul. Mauriora is what lies deep within. To discover Mauriora, you must look deep into yourself and everything around you. You must learn to channel and harness the energy that surrounds you. When you have that energy within you, you can achieve almost anything. For you will believe in yourself.

Discovering Mauriora is like discovering a greater dimension to your life. Taking elements that aren’t there for the naked eye, and using them for your every day life. When thriving for a new life or greater goals for you or your whanau, Mauriora will give you greater vision and drive to reach your full potential.

It will take what you may perceive as an ordinary life, and give it that little extra it needs.

This piece represent the harnessing of that energy to drive towards your goals. The energy comes from well beyond your ancestors, back from a time when life was in darkness, and the desire to walk in the light gave birth to the world we know today, and all the possibilities that are waiting for you to achieve.

Mauriora.

Hei Huia

Continuing my Huia theme. A taonga representing the feather of the Huia. A beautiful New Zealand native bird not seen since 1907.

When I was carving this piece, I constantly daydreamed about times gone by. Stories from my past kept popping into my head and amusing me as I carved. About half way through, the piece revealed itself to me as a feather. It is from the same tooth that I have carved two other pieces that have had strong connections to the past. So it was funny how I found myself dreaming about my youth as I carved this piece.

Our history and whakapapa are as much of a part of our lives today, as they were yesterday and beyond. It is what makes us what and who we are today. Whatever existed in your past is still with you and can be drawn upon whenever you want.

The wonderful Huia still lives on in our hearts and much as all the people that been in our lives. Nothing can take those times away. And reflecting on those wonderful moments is important in keeping those memories alive, until the time comes to relive them again.

Mauriora.

Wairua o Huia
The beautiful Huia. A large wattlebird that was mainly found in a large area in the south eastern part of the North Island. The last official sighting was in 1907, but sightings were reported as late as the 1960s.  The tail feathers of the Huia were highly prized by Maori, and were worn as a sign of high rank. The feathers were so highly regarded that they made elaborately carved containers in the shape of a small waka (canoe) to keep them safe. When hot worn, they were placed in the ‘wakahuia’, then it was hosted up to the roof for safe keeping. The Huia can stake claim to the most expensive feather ever. A single Huia feather was sold for $8000 in 2010. Twice as much as any other price paid for a feather. This piece is a dedication to this wonderful bird. It is designed as a hair accessory as the feathers were always worn, and represents the mana and integrity of the wearer. The longer outside pieces are a subtle nod to the female Huia’s beak; Long and curved, which was vastly different from the male’s beak.  The main detail on the top section represents the beautiful plumage of the Huia’s feathers. A feature that earned them the name Huia-ariki “chiefly huia”. Mauriora

Wairua o Huia

The beautiful Huia. A large wattlebird that was mainly found in a large area in the south eastern part of the North Island. The last official sighting was in 1907, but sightings were reported as late as the 1960s.

The tail feathers of the Huia were highly prized by Maori, and were worn as a sign of high rank. The feathers were so highly regarded that they made elaborately carved containers in the shape of a small waka (canoe) to keep them safe. When hot worn, they were placed in the ‘wakahuia’, then it was hosted up to the roof for safe keeping.

The Huia can stake claim to the most expensive feather ever. A single Huia feather was sold for $8000 in 2010. Twice as much as any other price paid for a feather.

This piece is a dedication to this wonderful bird. It is designed as a hair accessory as the feathers were always worn, and represents the mana and integrity of the wearer.

The longer outside pieces are a subtle nod to the female Huia’s beak; Long and curved, which was vastly different from the male’s beak.

The main detail on the top section represents the beautiful plumage of the Huia’s feathers. A feature that earned them the name Huia-ariki “chiefly huia”.

Mauriora

Mauria mai Te Mátauranga 

I was deeply honoured to carve this taonga for highly respected local Maori leader, and modern day Rangatira, Chris Barber.

A wonderful man with supreme mana. The taonga reflects his gift of knowledge and the important role he plays in passing that knowledge on.

The journey in the creation of this taonga was a very special and spiritual experience for all involved.

For those who don’t know, this is a heru. A traditional Maori comb that was worn in the back of the head. Often worn by paramount chiefs, something Chris undoubtedly is.

Mauriora.
Apr 3

Niho Wheku

Lovely chunky piece of material here. Contemporary wheku that is light around the neck, but is heavy in the hand. You can feel the mana in this material. It’s always a worry when you carve it. The wairua of these creatures deserves as much respect as you can muster.

Mar 2

Wheku O Rangatira

First time I have carved this style wheku in a niho. This is the shape that I received the tooth, and it gave me a chance to use the natural cavity for the wheku’s mouth. Love it when a piece naturally lends itself to a final design. Wairua guiding the way

Rangatira were great leaders amongst their Iwi. I’m sure this taonga will find its way around the neck of a great leader one day too.

Mauriora.
Feb 1

Hurihuringa

The best way to prepare for the future, is to reflect on our past.

Heru Niho

A carving for a fellow carver.

The heru was a traditional ornamental comb used to fasten long hair in a topknot. It also indicated the rank of the wearer. Often worn by men of wisdom, it seemed to fit perfect for the recipient of this piece. Mauriora.

Cultures, ancestors. All come together in one beautiful place. They share their stories, their experiences and they are there for us, always.

Whalebone amulet for reciting whakapapa. Whalebone can very very unforgiving. It’s porous nature can be very challenging to carve. Many cavities and imperfections can keep you reassessing the final design. It just shows you who is really in charge.