Monday, April 22, 2024

Students use traditional design to create contemporary works of art

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Edegewater College NCEA Level 2 student Keaton says that his art was inspired by the local school marae. Photo supplied

Keaton Stephens from Edgewater College and Tamika Te Young of Macleans College are both thrilled that their artworks are showcased in Wellington at the National Secondary Schools’ 2020 Ringa Toi Student Exhibition.

The exhibition that features 20 artworks by Auckland secondary school students working towards NCEA levels 1-3 is coordinated by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

“It celebrates talented young artists working in Toi Māori,” says Alex Bidois, NZQA deputy chief executive Māori.

“Showcasing the work of young artists encourages creative expression about our culture and history, while celebrating the survival of traditional art forms such as whakairo and raranga.”

The works of art include weaving, digital, printmaking, paint, ink, drawing, photography, multimedia and carving.

Edegewater College NCEA Level 2 student Keaton says his art was inspired by the local school marae, Te Tahawai marae.

The multimedia artwork titled Te Wānanga o Te Tahawai is made of vinyl and clear acrylic.

“I love the designs and patterns of traditional Māori artworks, carvings, buildings, and clothing that I have had the priviledge of viewing first hand at my school,” says Keaton who attended the exhibition launch in Wellington.

“I’ve used traditional designs as inspiration and transformed them into contemporary and innovative artwork. The design itself is a repeating tile pattern with the centre containing multiple intermixing Māori symbols from nature like the koru and silver fern sprouting out and flourishing.”

He chose the traditional black and red colours because they work well as contrasting colours, while the clear acrylic board “offers a layer of transparency that is interesting to the eye and can be more interactive in a variety of spaces.”

Macleans College student Tamika says her watercolour painting on the Progression of Speech, titled Toi Waituhi was inspired by Māori artist James Ormsby who describes drawing as his first language.

“I wanted to use drawing as a way to communicate with the viewer. I have incorporated lips, which represent the idea of speech and the significance of te reo, while a faded kōwhaiwhai pattern intertwines in the background.”

Tamika is proud of the fact that her family has always celebrated the Māori culture.

“My family has seen our culture gain significance and a place in our land. Even though some don’t see its beauty, I am beyond proud to be a part of such a welcoming community and I am privileged to share an artwork that communicates my love of my tikanga and kawa of my iwi.”

The exhibition that ran from September 22 and ran till October 2 is now a virtual.. Visit

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