Papa Tawhai pop art portrait

This is a whanau illustration, of my maternal grandfather, Tawhairiri.  He was one of the last cowboys. A real legend, in his grand daughters’ eyes. The first picture is a portrait from 1993, at his last family Christmas with us. Papa Tawhai passed away in 1994. I named my son after him, Tawhairiri. Or Tawhai, for short. While I was growing up, he lived in a converted school house at Bartletts (about 30 km south of Gisborne). His father is buried in the family cemetery there.

This was an experiment in pop art portraiture. Hopefully more Johnny Romeo than Andy Warhol. The colours were inspired by the land and seascapes around Whareongaonga, Tawatapu (Bartletts), Wharerata and Muriwai, all south of Gisborne. For more information about the whenua and moana, please visit Te Iwi o Ngai Tamanuhiri on their website or facebook page.

A framed digital print featured in the tribal exhibition, Toi Tāmanuhiri,  at Te Muriwai Marae in 2013.  It’s shown in one of the photographs, alongside art pieces made by my older brother and sister.

NFS

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.