In Māori legend, Ranginui (the sky father) and Papatuanuku (the earth mother) gave birth to all that is manifest as life. In their drawing apart, light flooded the landscape and produced the myriad colours and forms that emerged to what we recognise today. The book presents and manifests an exploration of pigments and materials from naturally occurring elements in the landscape of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The work is an extension of the legacy of William Colenso who described pre-European Māori knowledge of colour and form, and how they used materials to create artefacts of beauty. The materials used for the book describes the investigation of colour, weaving meaning by ancient Māori, the identification of sources, and the processes of rendering raw materials for production.
The book art comprises substrates made from locally sourced plant fibres, bound in the leathers of pest species Possum (Paiham), and printed using inks with pigments from carbon black from native woods, pumice used for sanding, coloured clays, oils and resins Harakeke (Flax) is used as insert pages. Colenso himself first trained as a printer in the new colony, leaves a legacy of book making but there is no evidence he used the tints he describes in the printing he did. This work continues the art practice in a contemporary frame through trial and error, and discoveries reveal the utility of pigments in letterpress printing inks from natural sources onto printed substrates of butter and harakeke paper (pepa).
Words that may be useful to viewer:
Taiao (natural world)
Hiako (hide or skin)
Tukutuku (panel designs)