Te Puna O Āio, the Temple of Potential
As a contemporary Māori artist, within Aotearoa, New Zealand, I research what is meant by spirituality or wairua in my art practice; and why Māori art is both a practice and a philosophy that can revive the spirit. I explore my connection to the natural world and the primordial elements to define what is meant by an Indigenous psyche. Steeped in the same wairua of customary Māori art, I am in the realm of imagining,1 feeling and activating a force from within. I project non-physical images/ideas into the physical world. Being in the realm of wairua Māori informs my art practice, despite the impacts of colonisation. Enacted through Whakapapa to the natural world, my art practice is a pathway to reviving an unwritten/oral philosophy; a primordial remembrance activated by a creative process.
Through my own creative art practice and research, I have awakened my own primordial connection to Nature’s biological intelligence and created a realm that enriches wairua. Wairua exists within all Whakapapa. I create this artwork, Te Puna O Āio, The Temple of Potential, with its own spirit and Whakapapa. Wairuatanga and Māorioritanga evolved as frameworks through an ease or lightness of approach. This research proposes a counter-narrative to creativity as hard work, instead positioning art as an elemental flowing spring of our creative potential that emerges with a lightness and Ease.2 This Ease is a method I use to create directly from my innate self, my spirit base, where there is no end, therefore, no struggle. The more we go with the current of our energy, the easier we flow.
The simple notion that grounds this research is that we have a spirit and it must be active; both to contribute to “thought” and to activate our inner potential. The spirit joined with our physical being contributes to a multi-dimensional reality. It is an acknowledgment of our potential to be anything we can imagine, regardless of our circumstances. Using an Indigenous-auto ethnographic methodology, this thesis explores how Te Puna O Āio, The Temple of Potential, as a piece of contemporary Māori Art, constitutes the space of the acknowledged spirit. The Temple is a place to remember our multi-dimensional potential, as well as the living example of the spirit in action.