Acknowledging what we know, and what we don’t know
Kupenga - Maori word for net
Artist Creative Process
This work explores ancestral knowledge survival and revival.
I weave fibres and fibres weave stories and stories weave us together. I collect the richly coloured and textured natural fibres of the Bangalow Palm from all over Bundjalung country, including this little grove. If you look up you'll see the "infloresence" - the fruiting body of the Bangalow palm and the "sheath" which is the base of the leaf attached to the trunk. When ready, these parts fall to the base of the tree where I collect and use them to weave and sculpt with.
Bangalow / Piccabeen palm is a native plant nurtured by these fertile volcanic soils in rainforests here and across the country. It has it own story. Through generations of observations made by the "tangata whenua" - people of the land they gained scientific knowledge of how to process the berries to make them edible. How to process the fibres for thatching, twining and stitching. Which animals use this as food source. Which animals were ready to hunt when in flower and how to make a water carrying baskets using only one part of this native palm?
This net was made using the palm sheath, deconstructed into individual parts and reassembled and rewoven to make whole again.
Our stories are both individual and collective.
I was born in NZ and have spent the last 30 years in Australia. I didn't grow up knowing I belonged to a tribe called Ngai Te Rangi from Aoteraoa NZ.
There were huge gaps in my knowledge of my ancestors who are NZ Maori, Cook Island Maori, English, German, Scottish and French.
Weaving reconnects me to “tangata whenua” people of the land and their beliefs, customs and cultural practices that are born of the land. I have learnt to weave my own net, to collect and remember the stories of my ancestors who have gone before me.
When we share our stories they weave an invisible net to contain our collective experience of life on earth.
All sales enquiries please call Suvira at 0402 125 922 or email Suvira McDonald
Sculpture Photography: John Walters