Woman in front of artwork in tree

Tell us about your artwork. Do you have a favourite medium? I am a traditional Māori weaver but I am not shy to push my work beyond the boundaries of traditional weaving. I am known for my innovative approach to using our weaving techniques to create contemporary artworks, combining traditional materials and techniques with contemporary designs and concepts. My work heavily reflects my taha Māori; I love to express these parts of myself through my work.

My favourite medium is muka work. Cloak weaving is a highly skilled and labour-intensive craft, but we get to create unique pieces to suit each individual or whānau where we can tell stories and display genealogy, and on completion they are prestigious family heirlooms.

 

How do you use social media to communicate what you do? Social media provides an awesome platform to express things I do and connect with an audience in a new and creative way. Sharing my work and commissions online I have been able to build a good reputation and rapport with people and expand my reach beyond the Tairāwhiti and connect with others in the art world.

I like documenting how I create things. I like to document my creative processes and techniques, and share behind-the-scenes glimpses while I work from my studio at home. I am not an extrovert or a fan of public speaking but through social media I can share with people a deeper understanding of my works and what inspired the motivation to create.

 

In 2022, your Instagram bio stated: “This year will be about weaving kākahu/traditional Māori cloaks, wahakura and poi tāniko”. What exciting things can followers expect to see from you in 2023? I am still on my journey towards the revival of Māori weaving arts in my community so this will be top of the list. Also this year I probably will have works featured in some nice exhibitions. I want to explore some experimental weaving and am working towards an installation of random weave baskets. Unlike the precision of Māori weaving, these baskets will have a more free-form, flowing appearance as opposed to our kete with a structured pattern. Making these using materials from the taiao, I am excited to let the basket guide me!

Glossary. Kete, basket, kit. Muka, prepared flax fibre, cloak making. Poi tāniko, a light ball with embroidered or woven detail, on a string of varying length which is swung or twirled rhythmically to sung accompaniment. Taha Māori (Māori heritage and cultural identity). Taiao, natural world. Wahakura, woven harakeke (flax) bassinet for infants. Whānau, family.

 

Head to Fiona's profile to find out more. This piece is number two of three in the Conversations with Friends series, celebrating the launch of our new website. Read our conversations with Emma Sage of Sage Journal and station cook Philippa Cameron of What's For Smoko.

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