Monday, November 1, 2010

Churchill Fellowship Award

A fabulous honour - the award of a Churchill Fellowship to travel to museums in New Zealand, Hawai'i, England, Scotland and Norway. Photographed with Owen Walsh the Administrator of Norfolk Island, Tihoti, and my two referees Rhonda Griffiths (former Cultural Affairs Advisor for the Pacific Community, currently Development Manager for Norfolk Island Tourism) and Lisa Richards (Curator of Norfolk Island Museums).


You may wonder why we called this blog 'Tattoo and Tapa'. Tihoti's passion is design using the ancient symbols used by his tupuna or ancestors. Mine is the same, but applied on a different surface.

The designs used by Tahitians in 'tatau' (tattoo) often crossed over into the designs used in 'ahu (tapa) decoration. Some of the deep symbolism used in tatau today in Tahiti is lost, although Tihoti feels that by using nature as our inspiration we can come to understand these designs again, and from there evolve those designs beyond our misunderstandings. But that understanding has to come from a Polynesian perspective.

I am fascinated by the designs and colours used in the ancient 'ahu - everything was symbolic. Much of this knowledge is forgotten today: but not entirely. For me it has become an exhilarating adventure of rediscovery.