Wahine Kotahi

"A Tribute to Gordon Walters"

Wahine Kotahi and Wahine Ma have been hugely influenced by the work of NZ artist Gordon Walters and his famous koru series. His contemporary koru patterns were symbolic of Maori rock art which he held particular interest in for over 30 years. He named many, if not all, of these artworks Maori names and titles. These artworks became his trademark.

For Maori, the koru pattern holds great significance as it symbolises new life and new beginnings. It is based on the new unfurling fern frond.

These two artworks have many layers. One narrative touches upon my thoughts and understanding of colonisation and its effects on our people, especially that of my Grandmother's generation. It also tells a story about my childhood ... what it was like growing up as a young Maori girl in a small rural town in the 70's.

Another narrative talks about cultural or taonga appropriation. Gordon Walters was criticised for appropriating Maori art. He responded with: 'all I have done with the koru motif is make a reference to it and naturally, since I'm a contemporary Pakeha artist, the result is not Maori art. It's not supposed to be.'

As you can see, these images are a deliberate appropriation of Gordon Walters's artwork style. My use and approach here is in response to his remark above ... 'all I have done with Gordon Walters's stylised koru motifs is make a reference to it and naturally, since I'm a contemporary Maori artist, the result is ABSOLUTELY Maori art. Always has been!'

Acknowledgement: NZ HISTORY