The Artist-in-Residence program resumes this month in the Kimball Education Gallery with Glenda Joyce Hape, a Māori artist from New Zealand. Glenda is a weaver who combines traditional and contemporary techniques and materials to create Māori kakahu, or cloaks. We recently sat down with Glenda to discuss her background, practice, and inspiration.
What is your artistic background?
I did my degree in visual arts at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi University in Whakatane, New Zealand. Weaving was my major. I originally went to school for painting, but I liked weaving so much I decided to do that instead. It wasn’t just about weaving from flax, but from contemporary materials too. My teacher told me I could weave with copper and other more modern materials. Once I learned these techniques from my tutor, I expanded from there, creating sculptural forms and trying to step out of the box.
What inspires your work?
My tutor, Tina Wirihana, is a master weaver. She has been doing it for years. Her mother taught her to weave, passing down the tradition. In my case, my grandmother was a weaver, but I found this out later. But Tina was my first teacher. She is fussy and particular about her work. I was impressed by her work. She is my mentor.
I am also inspired by fashion, architecture, other people’s art, nature, color. And I am inspired by people—family, friends, and my community as well. I have friends who are artists and their work is just beautiful.
What is the most difficult aspect of creating your art?
Time—there’s not enough time in the day! Also, harvesting materials is very difficult. It took me a month to collect materials before coming here. I went out and harvested with my husband and started prepping the muka (flax fiber). After you go out and find them, you still have to prep them.
Can you talk more about the technique you use?
The technique for weaving cloaks is called whatu aho rua, which means “double pair twining.”
What will you take back to New Zealand from this experience?
I will bring back new ideas for other materials I might want to use and different techniques from other artists. I would also like to do printing. There are cool prints here, and I have done printing before but nothing like what you have here. Also, experience; how fast is it here; the exposure to everything, and that people are interested in what we do.
Join Glenda Joyce Hape tonight at 6:00 p.m. for a gallery talk in the Kimball Education Gallery. Or visit her Wednesdays–Sundays, 1:00–5:00 p.m. through October 30 to learn more about her work and try out some of her weaving techniques for yourself!