By Piri Cowie for SCAPE Public Art Season 2018
Ōtautahi-based artist Piri Cowie is undertaking an ambitious, interwoven project with multiple strands Mauri Moana, ko Au Te Moana ko Te Moana ko Au / I am the Ocean and the Ocean is Me. These include a contemporary Māori cultural fashion experience, where garments and taonga designed and made by Cowie will be shown within an event incorporating live performance, waiata, and sharing of kai; photographic portraits, and expression of Ngāi Tahu and Māori cultural identity sited as billboards around the edge of North Hagley Park; and collaborative community wānanga. Cowie has made the work to “…speak of our place within Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the Pacific Ocean. Honouring the life forms within our oceans. The kaupapa of Mauri Moana has arisen out of my concern for the decline of our oceans. Māori belief systems show how we are intrinsically connected with our environment. As expressed in the whakatauki, “ko Au Te Moana, ko Te Moana ko Au”. I am the ocean and the ocean is me. When we uplift the Mauri of the Moana it positively affects the life within our oceans and naturally uplifts the Mauri of our people. Reflecting a cycle of Kaitiakitanga/Guardianship. Our Ngāi Tahu and Māori culture has always been here, but it has not always been visible or looked at.”
Aramoana – Ocean Pathways. Collaborative community wānanga – workshops
Monday 8 October and Tuesday 9 October
10:30am and 1:00pm daily
The Common Room hosted by Two Productions, at the Arts Centre of Christchurch
Piri Cowie was born and raised in Te Waipounamu, the South Island of New Zealand. Māori culture is the backbone of her art practice. Cowie has completed several public art commissions, for Te Rūnanga ō Ngāi Tahu, honouring tuna (eels). Her most recent steel sculpture Kirihao – Resilience is situated at the Pita Te Hori Centre, Ōtautahi, Christchurch, New Zealand. Cowie also created seven bronze eels for Te Hononga, the Christchurch Civic building. In 2013, Cowie designed shade sails that are now installed in a Māori garden at Les Jardins de Fruitiers de Laquenexy, near Metz, France. In 2014, Cowie was able to participate in the Artists in Residence – Vallauris, France, and in 2015 returned to Paris to be mentored by Marian Fountain in the creation of bronze medals. Cowie further completed integrated art designs at Tākaro ā Poi, Margaret Mahy Family Playground, Christchurch, New Zealand. Cowie’s work has also been exhibited in many exhibitions in Aotearoa and internationally. She has extended her art practice by attending International Indigenous Visual Artists Gatherings in New Zealand and the Northwest Coast of North America. Cowie is a graduate of the University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts New Zealand.