Papakāinga is a series of work that shows life as it happens in the rohe of Waipa and Maniapoto.
Hiria recently completed her MFA studies at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design, awarded with First Class Honours
Hiria was raised in her grandparent’s home in Otorohanga. Grandmother Eva a traditional weaver and grandfather Rua a self-taught carver. Their lives as creatives became the foundation for her own practice.
Hiria’s interest in the traditions of painting begins with her early exposure to Johannes Vermeer, John Constable and Salvador Dali framed prints popular in the 60’s hung on the walls in her home. “The whole house was eclectic with lots of things to look at and touch but my brain would filter out the paintings, drawings and photos as items of particular interest.”
In her research Hiria observed the role of the Colonial Gaze within New Zealand’s history of painting. “Māori and land were often objectified for the gain of the artist or the connoisseur. The image of ‘Māori on his land’ offered a mythical exotic muse. While the land without Māori showed vast naked sprawling vacant landscapes ownerless and ready to occupy. I am interested in our small but condensed version of painted histories in New Zealand and how paintings were used as political strategy. Then I am interested in how many Māori picked up a brush and began paint in a representational manner.”
“I take control of the lens and the narrative in my work. I use painting to tell our own stories. I’m not interested in token or romantic notions of Māori but find interest in recording what we are doing in the 21st century, where and how we are living, our condition, politics, cultural norms and capturing the moments that pass without a thought,”
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