Finding my Spirit

I visited the Paarpakani exhibition in Adelaide earlier this year and was intrigued and inspired by what I saw.  The wonderful creatures made by the members of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers were fantastic. The colourful whimsical creatures were made of a combination of natural materials and found objects. You can see some of their creations here. PaarpakaniIMG_0958

I was so inspired I had to have a go at making something similar for myself. I live in New Zealand so I don’t have access to the same grasses the Tjanpi women have but I found some dried cabbage tree leaves that worked pretty well. They were flexible enough to mould into shape but strong enough to hold a form. I found some old wool and set to work. The first little guy I made was my little spirit guy. He seemed to embrace all the energy, motivation and spirit that I didn’t have at the time. I found when I held him I held him tightly, lovingly and even a little possessively.

In the making I realised just how much my spirit was lacking at this time. Perhaps it was just winter or feeling over stretched but I realised I needed to find some of that spirit and I became motivated to make some changes.

IMG_0960The second figure I made was my Hine Ruru – my wise “owl woman”. In some Maori traditions the ancestral spirit of a family can take the form of a Ruru (Morepork). This spirit is known as Hine-ruru, the ‘owl woman’. It is believed that these owl spirits can act as kaitiaki or guardians and have the power to protect, warn and advise. While I made my Hine Ruru I realised I was thinking a lot of my mother and my grandmother and reflecting on how grateful I was for the time they took to install in me the art and craft of working with fibre. Interestingly I reflected that they would have thought that making these creatures was a bit frivolous as most of their making was for practical reasons and a need for warm clothing or household objects that they could not afford to buy. Their wonderful creative talents were not considered “art”.

IMG_0949Since seeing the bird creatures of the Paarpakani exhibition I wanted to create a bird like creature and here she is!

My little spirit guy can now take flight and our spirits can soar safely as I have the protection and guidance of my Hine Ruru.

IMG_0948

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2 Comments on “Finding my Spirit”

  1. Art and Soul Space August 11, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    How absolutely beautiful, Janet! Love your creations and the story of their emergence.

  2. Hannah August 11, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Janet, your spirit folk (and flock!) are a wonderful example of the need to honor ancient traditions and bring them forward to share with the wider world. I loved hearing about Hine Ruru–I think all of us need such a wise spirit.

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