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Associate Professor/Ahonuku

Steve Gibbs

DipFA, MMVA, Dip.Tchg

As a Māori researcher artist/art educator the major focus of my work is reflecting Māori world-views and issues of importance to Māori.  My research platform outlines the ways in which I have been involved in the development of contemporary Māori Visual Arts as Principal Lecturer at Toihoukura and with local schools and Māori Kaumātua communities as well as with international indigenous arts communities. These include the Leiden Museum in Holland, the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver, the British Museum, London and the Tairāwhiti Museum, Gisborne.

Tairāwhiti, Gisborne as a location is of paramount importance to me and a major source of inspiration for my artistic practice and research. I have strong ties to the land and tangata whenua and place much significance on working with others, using education and creativity as a tool to learn about ourselves and the world.  As a visual linguist I explore the world through signs and symbols and my practice includes carving, painting on board and works on canvas. Informing these works are cosmogeneological layers and an exploration of our subconscious connection to nature and the solar system. My work addresses specific environmental issues of importance to Māori including the poisoning of our land through forestry and the effects of mining and over fishing.

I research visual mnemonics in my work, exploring the symbolic connections between bird, fish and whakapapa, incorporating motifs of animals and nature alongside those of my Ngai Tāmanuhiri and Tāirawhiti Iwi.  My relationship to the sea is a strong focus and I explore techniques including the use of many translucent layers of paint (up to 70 layers) to represent water and its symbiosis with other elements in my work.  Tāirawhiti is the first to see the light as the sun comes out of the sea and my creative process is inseparable from this natural environment, Kaitiaikitanga and connection to my spiritual realm.

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