I’m haunted when
finding the sketches of our old Kaumatua or ancestors. As a result,
I have been caught up in the research and production of indigenous
drawings (e.g. Heke with Kowhaiwhai). This work - often within whare,
has been physical and at times even frustrating.
My Waituhi Series of drawings are a reaction to the avalanche of
wearisome copies from the published lexicon of our kowhaiwhai
designs. These kowhaiwhai templates have created a critical mass and
it’s ensuing visual convention contains little knowledge and even
less wisdom – especially in schools ! Some Maori use this limited
published visual dictionary as their design stencil, their only
guide or reference. The generic kowhaiwhai designs that have been
applied in some whare over the past few decades are testament to
this dangerous phenomenon.
My Waituhi Series – or complex drawings, is a response to this
visual trend in our contemporary Maori design (re. Koru = spiral).
I’m trying to figure out the quiet korero within our kowhaiwhai
design. I’m copying the appropriated and authentic, drawing the
geometry and idea, and finally reflecting the beautiful surface,
content and mystery within kowhaiwhai design.
James Ormsby (2005)