Friday, October 29, 2010

my art whakapapa

Whakapapa is geneology in Maori

Many Maori can stand in front of people and recite their geneology back to the waka (canoe) their Tipuna (ancestors) came to this country on.

I can barely get to my great grandparents. I was blessed to know my paternal great grandmother and to learn about the people and their characters from the stories my grandparents told. But that reciting of names....

It never seemed like something i was missing until i read the Maeve chronicles - Maeve, as a training druid needs to do the same chronicle of ancestory - with pride of course having been fathered, ostensibly by a God and mothered by 7 witches (and of course Esus, when he fronts up, can recite many, many, many generations)...

Ancestors are important.

We carry their cellular memory. We were all cells present (as ovum inside our foetal mother) in our Grandmother's bodies. We have swum in the soup of our ancestors.

We express their quirks unknowingly. We are living our lives. But we are partly living theirs too.

And knowing the interior of these people, understanding those quirks, recognising the cellular memory aids me in the knowing of my-self.

As i struggle to develop as an artist i begin to think about this ancestory in relation to art.

Artists who have walked the path of connecting with creative spirit, unleashing their heart onto the canvas and into the world. Negotiating their own doubts and fears. Walking the lifelong path of learning.

I think about how they have cleared a path through the scrubby undergrowth of these very human responses to a path less travelled ... and this is a path i aim to walk...

the path where i am taking my tentative steps.

So understanding these art ancestors helps me to walk the path through the bush knowingly - helps me avoid the potholes, helps me see the signposts....

This week my assignment on Fearless painting was to go to a local art museum...

i saw the painters above, who gathered in a little cottage and FEARLESSLY painted in a style that was not popular with the community, that connected them with change and vibrancy and vigor. A style that started in the hearts of visionary people and that broke the mold of so many artistic styles.

Looking at their little works (that were so rooted in Silverstream where they were painting) i felt a connection to the spirit of change.

And the paint box of one of the artists was there - it seemed to call to me


  1. My maternal Grandpa an artist ~ a house painter by trade, but a wonderful artist in his own right ~
    My Mum was a wonderful artist, but she never pursued an artistic life...

    Up until I started to scrapbook in '01, I would have said I was in no way, shape or form any kind of artist...

    but then...


    And then I was introduced to ATC's. And suddenly (though it took me a while to acknowledge it), I WAS an artist.


    How the heck did THAT happen?!?!?!?!


    I'm just thankful that it did.

    And I'm glad it happened for you, too ~~~

  2. Sadly, I don't know my whakapaka,
    but I'm glad you've answered
    the challenge to pick up your legacy.

  3. In my family, the last two generations of women claimed themselves as artists. I know nothing about the rest of my family. I have a sneaking suspicion though that they too were artists of some sort. Really makes me wonder.....

  4. Thank you for sharing your whakapapa (and sadness about missing one mollie) with me - none of my immediate family claimed art as part of themselves but i think artists who followed their vision to unknown places are my art ancestors... they are the ones i claim as my predecessors on this path...