Kāwhia Series Statement
Eight hundred years ago, the great Tainui waka (canoe) entered Kāwhia Harbour and thus, a spiritual homeland was established. I arrived in Kāwhia in March 2020, as Aotearoa New Zealand was being introduced to a four level Covid-19 alert system – we were currently in Level 2 and in 48 hours, would shift to Level 4.
For months, I continued to work on a series of woodblock prints I started over the 33 days of Level 4 from a town that felt desolate under the current conditions, finding imagery in the evidence of community and humanity. I took photographs of Kāwhia wharf, boat launch, moorings, concrete sea walls, public spaces, neighbourhood fences and historic sites. I collected the fine-grained black iron sand from the harbour and iron-rich clays from the beach to create prints that focus on the qualities of raw materials and connection to place and people.
Description of work
Wood block is a type of relief printing, a family of printing where hand tools are used to cut the surface of a block of wood to create an image. Once the image is complete, ink is conventionally rolled onto the surface; in this instance, black iron sand from Kāwhia Harbour is mixed with the ink. Thai kozo paper is placed over the inked block, then pressed with a spoon to transfer the ink from block to paper to create the image.
The orange, brown, green, grey and blue sections in the Kāwhia series are created from clay dug from the beach at Kāwhia Harbour. The clay was dried, hammered, and ground to a powder. Orange, brown and grey are natural colours of the clay; chromium oxide and blue earth pigments create the green and blue. The powders were mixed with water to create a dye bath for Thai kozo paper.
After drying, the Thai kozo print is adhered to Fabriano paper, using the chine collé method. The print is then signed, titled and numbered.