Gnosis

Gnosis was a group exhibition featuring work by Mary MacGregor-Reid, Math Kabryn, Melanie Tahata (that’s me!), Joel Bradley, Jared Holland, Abby Helasdottir and Steven Johnson Leyba.
It was held at at Nature: Art + Design, Newton, Auckland, from 18 October to 16 November, 2013.

Gnosis basically means to develop your own mode of deep critical thinking, maybe investing time in some esoteric or occult theories. Anyway, I was invited to be a part of this exhibition, by old friend and fellow Art School Girl of Doom, Mary MacGregor-Reid. I produced 3 large posters for the exhibition. They were all done in the style of the star skulls that I posted about here.  This post is packed with photos, so I’ll stop blithering and get on with it.

The Art

Pics of the prints at home,  hanging in the gallery in Auckland and a glimpse of my artists’ statement. A post about the Goat skull design is here.

The Venue

This is where the Nature gallery was, on St. Benedict’s Street in Newtown. Beautiful Auckland, days like that made me miss you.

The Opening

This is obviously the fun bit. Hanging out with friends, old and new, was really awesome.  Thank you to everyone who came along, Mary for being awesome and Jared at Nature for currating the show.

Matariki

Almost exactly a year ago, I drew this design to celebrate Matariki.  (I’ve been furiously blogging a storm up in June 2014 to try and get this site up to date with my work – but have back dated everything).

Matariki, for me, is generally a time to reflect on those who have passed on, and the new year that awaits us. Unsurprisingly, it happens in the middle of winter, pretty close to the Winter Solstice.

So of course I thought a nice skull was in order. With eyes. One possible translation of Matariki is ‘the eyes of God’ so I took this literally in a pop-surrealist way.  There’s seven wrapped in this ghoul’s hair, representing each star of the Matariki (Pleiades) cluster. And some blue frosty breath, leading to more representations of stars up above the banner. I like stars. I use one as a logo. Ahurr. The banner says Aotearoa 666, because well, why the hell not. Probably more user-friendly than Mel RULZ, innit.

Just to reach back in time again, I ran a giveaway on my Facebook page. And I gave away this hoody (which I photographed first before I sent it off to the winner in Australia) for Matariki! Awww, ain’t I nice. I usually like to do things that coincide with my birthday or Matariki. Something for everyone. It used to be having a gig, but now it’s all about the art, baby!  Any excuse for a piss-up. In the spirit of totally contradicting myself,  I’m not bothering to do a Facebook giveaway this year. I’m waiting until I get over one thousand likes before I start handing out the treats again.  Seems like a worthy goal, plus I can procrastinate over what to give away for the rest of the year.

Here’s some pics of the final design, and the hoody blowing in the wind. You can get an idea of how the printing process translates into fabric. It’s still something that’s a bit mysterious to me, pretty sure a visit to the printer would cure my curiousity.  If you’d like to own of these – and I’m confident that you will ROCK IT – you can check out my t-shirt store here

Nga mihi mahana

 

 

Goats

That got your attention. Please take a gander at this goat skull design.

The Story

Once upon a morning we went on a whanau walk through the whenua at Tawatapu, to hunt goats. I was armed with my camera!  Anyone who has driven around the Wharerata Ranges knows that there are a fuckton of goats in the forest up there. I love goats.  I could look at photos of them all day. This is probably why I never get much work done. Goats will be the new cats of the internet, mark my words!  And please don’t get me started on cats.

We saw a baby goat skull on the train tracks. It was sad – where was it’s Mum? Where was it’s whanau? What happened? These sorts of questions swirled in my head. Those sorts of questions are also one of the reasons I’d make a crap farmer. So I took a photo to remember the moment.

The Design

The photo forms the basis of this design.  The Aotearoa 666 logo is used as a brush to bring the goat skull out of the darkness. Don’t ask me how the extra face popped up the top there, it just did that. Stuff happens. As Lemmy would say.
This is one of my personal favourites; the photo comes straight out of Tawatapu, also known as Bartletts, where my grandparents lived.

This design featured in the Gnosis exhibition and yes, it’s also available as a t-shirt here.

 

 

 

 

Check out these Love Skulls! Again.

Do you remember the Love Skulls paintings? I wrote about them here.

Well, I vectorised the second painting I did, in Adobe Illustrator.  Flash, aye bay?!?!  Now you can buy prints, iphone covers, laptop covers, and t-shirts from Red Bubble (good if you live in Australia) or Society6 (Stateside).

Here’s a couple of pics showing the old and the new, plus a product mockup of the iPhone on Society6.

Yurp, artist sites, I have been joining them. No doubt plenty of my other stuff will show up here too. Some of them I will only turn into prints (like the gig posters) some of my other stuff will be available as things you use wot to put on your gadgets.

And t-shirts… always the t-shirts!

 

Mauri Ora!

 

 

 

Know Thyself

Early next year some of my work will be in a group show.
It is called ‘Know Thyself’ and is an exhibition with 3 other women artists.

The show will be held at ‘The Winemakers Daughter’, a local cafe and winebar at 88 Grey Street right here in Gisborne.

We will be previewing the show on Friday 6 January 2012 at 6pm. Wine and nibbles are provided so please feel free to come along.

Ma te wa, have a very Merry Christmas and I will see you all in the New Year.

Nga mihi o te wa me te tau hou.

Mauri Ora!

All Hallows Eve

 

This is a portrait of Peter Steele (1962 – 2010) from Type O Negative. They are one of my most favourite-est bands ever.  A good friend told me about them in 1995, so I bought ‘Origin of the Feces’, the notorious ‘live’ album.  It was the only one I could find in Auckland! I will be honest and say I didn’t really get the sense of humour at first (“these guys can’t be serious! That sounds like a pretend crowd…”) as I knew nothing about them and hadn’t heard anything else by them.  Then that same friend gave me ‘October Rust’ to listen to in 1996.  And like millions of other goth girls around the world, I was a goner! Sigh, swoon etc.  It was only a matter of time until I got their other albums. And it has all been cheerfully downhill from there.  I never got to see Type O Negative live unfortunately.

Some of my best memories are associated with Type O Negative.  Driving from Auckland to Wellington with a Type O hater in the back, shouting his own version of Black No. 1 lyrics (LOVING YOU WAS LIKE FUCKING A GOTH!) while we giggled in the front. It was funny cos it was true, you see.  There are many many more, I’ll save them for another time.

This is my tribute to Peter Steele and the most excellent music he created.  I wanted to do something special for Halloween, so I have spent the last week of October drawing this portrait and thrashing the Symphony for the Devil live dvd.

Because as we all know, everyday is Halloween.

XII. All Hallows Eve

Fall fires burn ‘neath
black twisted boughs
Sacrifice to above
Smoke swirling quickly
towards misting clouds
Offering of this blood
Into the flames
and without shame
Consumed with howls
and screams
Pumpkins grin
in their despair
On All Hallows Eve

Cruel be the wind
as it quells my words
I shout out to the rain
Incantations I so hoped
you’ve heard
That you live again
From deep Earth
brings forth rebirth
Witness but I shan’t believe
From below a chilling glow
On All Hallows Eve

Be spiderwebbed
and glazed in frost
She wears death beautifully
More stunning now
than in her life
On a bed of Autumn leaves
Into her eyes
and quite surprised
I whispered
don’t you leave
Sing macabre songs
and we’ll dance to dawn
On All Hallows Eve

Saint Lucifer hear me
praying to thee
On this eve of all saints
High be the price
but then nothing is free
My soul I’ll gladly trade

Cold is the night
in so many ways
Luna round, full and bright
Deep be the mud
on the fresh dug graves
On yours I recite
An ancient spell 
I know so well
Success is guaranteed 
I’ll bring you back
from where you’ve gone
On All Hallows Eve

From the album World Coming Down by Type O Negative.  Lyrics by Peter Steele.

 

Texture used in this image by Bitt Box.

Skull Flower

“Why don’t you paint some nice flowers” I thought to myself one day, “that’s something nice” So I set about painting a nice flower.  Oh! let’s make it blaack! I added.  And a nice skull in it. Yeah, I like them types of flowers!

I pondered this greatly as I worked on this small canvas. It is a blue black flower (he pua) with a skull (he tohu o te tangata) in the centre, blossoming upon a vivid blood red background.  As I daubed away at the skull in the centre I asked myself “Geez – why do I like skulls so much?”

Is it all the doom and gloom? A symbol of death?  A morbid fascination with the darker side of life?

 

 

 

Yeah fuck yeah!

 

Ha ha – you thought I was going to say no, didn’t you?

Well, over the last six years I’ve lost a few friends and family, for various reasons.  I am not afraid to die, but I am afraid of what will happen to my son if I should shuffle off this mortal coil before he becomes an adult.

And ever since this started happening, I started drawing skulls.  Lots of them.  Skulls are the ultimate symbol of humanity.  A skull could represent anyone.  It could be me, it could be my son. It could be one of my whānau who have passed on.  It could be you! :O! Nothing represents my essential love for humanity like a good skull.

You can check out photos of the painting in the making on my tumblr or facebook page.  (And while you’re down there, chuck us a like or a follow please? Ta!)

This painting is 8 inches by 8 inches, painted using Golden acrylics and a nice medium as a finishing varnish.  This painting is also for sale! as it is small enough to ship.  I have paypal and can also accept bank transfers.  If you are interested in purchasing this painting, contact me at mel@aotearoa666.com.

This is my first post in Spring! Spring has sprung (at least here in Kaiti, Gisborne) and a merry sneezing season to you all.  I have included some photos of the plum tree blossoms, just in case some of you wanted an actual really nice flower.  Hehe.

The Shed

Part of our glorious Kiwi culture involves sheds.  They are important places to have. While I was growing up The Shed was a place you could clear out and have birthday parties in.  Paint cars. Fix cars.  Store tools. Build things in.  That sort of thing.  So it’s little surprise that I like to use mine as a studio space.

This wasn’t always the way with Shed.  Oh no. Shed had become a storage space for items last seen in Island Bay in the early 1970s.  Record players that used to belt out ABBA tunes to keep four year olds amused.  And then the records, and everyone else’s unwanted records.   At the start of this year, my brother returned home from Australia and he cleaned it all out.  It was amazing.  I helped some, well, very little actually, but I am incredibly grateful to my brother for completing this momentous task.  Thank you!!

So here is a small collection of photos of things I keep in my shed.  Please excuse me while I ruminate some …

I’ve got the rest of my Ngā Moemoeā (Dreams) series hanging along the western wall.  The first one in the set was sold to the H.B Williams Library here in Gisborne.  Then there’s a photo of a collage that used to be on the fridge in Queens Ave (my old flat in Balmoral), and the next photo shows a clock I added frilly bits to and an old photo from The Blooding.  Haha, what is the time indeed.  Next, a nun and her drunken goat army (because every nun needs one), positioned right next to Maleficent. The evil Disney Queen from Sleeping Beauty.  Mmmmm… feeling goth-stalgic yet?

Because I am.

Then there is Cernunnos.  I had him made for me, and he watches over All.  At his feet sits Elvis, a surprise gift! Then there is an old bottle with Siouxsie lyrics on it. You can see some old paintings in the background.  And finally, the Hank Poster from Black Chrome‘s first gig.

So there you go – a quick twirl around the shed. If you fancy a real dance one night, come over for a visit.

Mauri Ora!

Black Number One

This is a piece exploring the colour Black in different mediums. It was inspired by Jo Tito’s Painted Rock of the Day called Paru.  I read about the black mud and how dense and oily it was… and I thought “wow – I want some of that!”

Knowing me I would probably try putting it in my hair.  Mud is awfully good for hair you know. I used to buy this African Mud stuff from the Body Shop and put that in my hair. It was heavily perfumed and processed of course, but still, silky black mud? I’d give it a whirl.

Anyway. Back to Black.

I wanted to experiment with some gloss gel I had just purchased – it has a very nice sheen to it when dry, so I added some black acrylic to it.  Mmmm shiny black.  I drew a star (cos I like stars, as well as skulls) and built up the gel around the edges.  I stained the wood with Indian Ink.  Then I used one of my old stencils and sprayed the words Mauri Ora on it.

Now, if any of you art knobs out there are thinking – “dude that’s pretty Ralph Hotere” (but in a more complicated lexicon of course), then you would be Correctamundo! as the Fonz used to say.  Ralph (I don’t know him personally I just always refer to Him as Ralph) is a HUGE influence on the art I like to make. I don’t think I’m anywhere near as good as him and it’s a bit art school to admit your influences these days, but his black paintings are FUCKING COOL.  Alright, that’s the Ralph rant over.

Black Planet.
Yeah so I like black. I love all the things I associate with it, but don’t care for other’s interpretations.  Leather, denim, latex, rooms, velvet, cardigans, hair, lace, night, warmth, goths,  teddy bears, sad pandas, nuns, goats, Chrome, cats, witches, deep space (9, ho ho), Darth Vader… no wait, I don’t like black metal very much.

Even Blacker!
To me, the colour black also represents peace, and the realm of Te Pō.  I read Cleve Barlow‘s take on Te Pō, where he described it as a place of ignorance (presumably because it is dark).  I don’t like this reading, I thought it was too heavily influenced by colonial ideas of black being negative and white being positive.  And I’ve heard enough of black being the bad guy.  Te Pō is the birthplace of the gods, the actioning of ideas, the place where life continues to grow.  Where things take form and set you on the path to Te Ao Mārama.  But you can’t have one without the other…

Back in Black.
So all these ideas were running through my mind as I layered on these different mediums. I enjoyed the experiment and the process gave me plenty of ideas for more creations!

The Man In Black.
I swapped this small piece (it’s about A5 sized) for the Paru rock, which is now next to my Perfectionism one, under the watchful eye of Darth Vader.  Because I picked up Mr. Paru on the anniversary of Peter Steele‘s death, I called him Pita Paru. (Pita is the transliteration of Peter!)
Peter Steele wrote this wonderfully sardonic song called Black No. 1 – about goths dying their hair….black! So that’s what this post is named after, as well as my rock.  Thanks Pete, you will always rock! hyuk hyuk.

Black Celebration.
After I dropped this piece off, Jo created a black rock and wrote her kōrero about Black. Awesome! Check it out here.  I get a shout out too.  Kei whea mai!