Canterbury Museum

Traditional weaving techniques translated into contemporary art

Posted: 5 March 2010

A new special exhibition which translates traditional off-loom hand woven garments into contemporary art has opened at Canterbury Museum. Cloaks: Roka Ngarimu-Cameron is the result of a two-year project undertaken in the Master of Fine Arts Programme with the Textiles Section of the School of Art at Te Kura Matatini ki Otago/Otago Polytechnic.

As part of the project artist Rokahurihia Ngarimu-Cameron has focused on the practice of loom weaving. Her Māori art viewpoint is paramount in her work as she looks to her culture for inspiration and sophistication. While being an established Māori weaver, with this body of work Roka has woven the two cultures of Aoteaora together. To honour the sovereignty of the Phormium tenax/te whitau o te harakeke (flax fibre), Roka developed her own technique of using individual strands of the harakeke (flax) fibre on a loom, a process which traditionally requires endless continuous spun threads. Her journey has not stopped at simple loom weaving. Roka cured seal skins, wove tartans, prepared kererū pelts and finally translated the traditional tāniko technique into computer-aided loom weaving.

All the resources used in this display have been traditionally gathered, prepared and dyed by Roka. She says of the harakeke, “Its unique texture fuelled my desire to experiment and to push the possibilities of the fibre even further. I refer to this fibre as the thread of life, Te Aho Ora. Not only has Te Aho Ora clothed our people for generations, it has been instrumental, through its form, in maintaining the adaptability and preservation of our art and our people.”

Rokahurihia Ngarimu-Cameron is a registered artist with the Māori authenticity trademark Toi Iho Māori Made, which represents authenticity and quality for Māori arts and crafts.

Cloaks: Roka Ngarimu-Cameron is on at Canterbury Museum until 14 March 2010.

Canterbury Museum is located on Rolleston Avenue, in the Cultural Precinct, next to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and opposite The Arts Centre on Worcester Boulevard. General admission to the Museum is free; donations are appreciated.