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Aroha Diptych

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Large Drawings

On Scale:
An elder once told me that he wanted to really test his top students. He gave them each a large 2 x 1 meter block of timber and told them to carve a giant Pou – or wood carving. This giant dare does beg the question however that perhaps giving them a tooth-pick to carve would have been a bigger wero – or challenge ?

For Stewart (1993), wrote “…to speak of the giant is to take part in the fiction of an authentic body. The giant, it’s superfluousness, it’s over signification, it’s simultaneous destruction and creativity, is an exaggeration or lie regarding the social status and social integration of the subject”. Perhaps big is often stink ! However Steward continues – “For the authentic body of the giant marks the merger of the self-as-part with an ideological whole in culture”.
(Susan Stewart “On longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection”. Duke Uni. Press, Durham & London, 1993).

On Meanings:
I draw to understand things. Most of my large drawings end up being a complex diagram. They are a kind of indigenous cartography. They chart or map a mixed outlook on life: it’s natural ecology & human history, it’s stories... They also contain esoteric layers that require one to meditate… They can reference: Whakapapa and whenua, the appropriated and authentic, sign and symbol, and the content of such information, knowledge and wisdom. Most of my drawings thus chart a personal odyssey homeward – Taonga tuku iho !

What I like to call “Aho lines” (or woven cross-hatching lines meaning: line, weft, line of descent,…), are a correspondence with whakapapa (or genelogy, history,…). Others read these marks as a skin’s cross-section, or DNA, even “Niho Taniwha” (or teeth of the monster, a common Maniapoto tukutuku pattern from my tribe). For me these woven lines refer to us all - and our numerous immigrant family lines… be they colonising Maori, Pakeha, or American. My late Aunt Hill wrote…“What are the cords which bind this place, close to our hearts with bonds of joy and pain ? The strand of heritage. Close woven in the warp and woof, the very pattern of our family life”.
Ref. page 34. “Te Parae – the homestead” from…“Lighting the traveller’s Road – the poetry Hilary Ferguson” ( pub. Fraser Books, Masterton, NZ. 2003. ISBN: 0-9582332-4-1).

Aho lines also appear on Waka for this reason. Within sections of Aho Lines both symbol and sign float with multiple horizons. A hole often appears ? This slippage or interruption can refer to “Home”, or the reasons why people came to New Zealand (some state that one reason for early Maori migration was major cosmological signs, e.g. the sun staying up for x2 days!).

My design and its de-coding should not be considered definitive or de-notational however. Much of my large drawings are actually co-notational and unconscious in their production. For example, one of my first school memories was sitting in an empty class room in recess, and drawing. Starting with a large empty sheet I’d carefully draw several battle-lines (Air Force planes, Army tanks & cannons – but no people). When this landscape was finished I’d immediately start an attack. A fighter jet would usually drop a bomb ! An active war would then be underway – but still without people. Numerous dots and lines would quickly trace missiles, bombs and bullets all over the paper. Numerous expanding scribbles would identify an explosion, ric-oh-shay, or hit!

By the end of recess my paper and hands would be completely grey with “black beauty” graphite. My joy of mark making had begun ! This doodling on paper has been maintained throughout my life. I still have this intuitive process when producing large drawings.

On Drawing:
I’ve always drawn – it’s been in my recollections and will be in my future. I’m encircled by it, indeed -“Drawing is everywhere. We are surrounded by it – it is sewn into the warp and weft of our lives: we practice it as one of our earliest experiences as school children, and as parents we treasure the drawings made by our offspring like nothing else.

People draw everywhere in the world; drawing can even be used as a global visual language when verbal communication fails. As adults we use it pragmatically to sketch our own maps and plan, but we also use it to dream – in doodles and scribbles. We use drawing to denote ourselves, our existence within a scene; in the urban context, for example, graffiti acts as a form of drawing within an expanded field. Indeed, drawing is part of our interrelation to our physical environment, recording in and on it, the presence of the human. It is the means by which we can understand and map, decipher, and come to terms with our surroundings as we leave marks, tracks, or shadows to mark our passing. footprints in the snow, breath on the widow, vapour trails of a plane across the sky, lines traced by a finger in the sand – we literally draw in and on the material world.

Drawing is part of what it means to be human – indeed, it would be ridiculous to apply this statement to other, more specialized media, such as painting, sculpture, or collage, but somehow applied to the medium of drawing, the idea is easier to grasp. Consider the two principal aspects of drawing today. The first… Drawing interconnects us with our ancestors in a large sense. Then, there is the other,…drawing has come to be associated with (human experience): intimacy, informality, authenticity (or at least with authentic inauthentic), immediacy, subjectivity, history, memory, narrative… Drawing is feeling.”
(Ref. page 6, “Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing” Intro. essay by Emma Dexter. Pub., Phaidon Press Ltd., N.Y., 2005. ISBN 07148-4545-0)

In other words - I draw the stuff l think, feel and see.

James F. Ormsby, 2008.
 

Aroha Diptych
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Aroha Diptych
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Aroha Diptych
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Large Drawing #12

 

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Large Drawing #12
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Large Drawing # 19

 

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KaiBay B

 

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Waka

 

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Large Drawing #8

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Tawhio

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