Henriata Nicholas - Skin Art

Matt Tuohy
By Matt Tuohy
Friday - November 07, 2008
| Del.icio.us
Nicholas creating Ta Moko


Henriata Nicholas - Skin Art

New Zealand-based artist Henriata Nicholas is featured in the current Girl Fest art exhibition at The ARTS at Mark’s Garage. She paints, weaves, carves and does Ta Moko - Maori tattoos - which she considers important in both Maori and Hawaiian cultures.

Though there are differences in the two cultures, Nicholas says there is a link between them. “One of the ways we do connect similarly is through tattoo,” she says. “There may be differing techniques, processes and tool-making, but skin art was practiced throughout the Pacific pre-contact, and today some are reviving the art form, carrying on decades of tradition.”

The tattoos are traditionally a symbol of maturity and articulate social status. Nicholas says some of her pieces are meant to ask the question of who has control in Ta Moko, the artist or the client. “I hope I answer that question,” she says.


The tattooing is practiced with a traditional chisel, carving grooves in the skin, rather than leaving it smooth like the tattoos you may get at your local tattoo parlor.

Ta Moko reflects heavily on her other works, which are based on textures and grooves. “When I paint, I like textures and creating surfaces that people can run their hands on, so they get to see the work and also touch it.”

Nicholas credits her family as her main influence in her art.“I was influenced by my mother when she was learning traditional weaving, and my brother, who was learning to be a master carver and later went on to become one of the foremost Ta Moko artists in Aotearoa (Maori for New Zealand),” she says. “That’s where my core traditional art values come from, and from there I developed a keen interest in contemporary art forms like painting.”

Moko Puna

Nicholas was drawn to the Girl Fest exhibition because of the messages and awareness the conference, musical acts, artists and others bring to light.

“It’s so important to raise awareness of harmful social conditioning and abuse in all its forms,” she adds. “It’s also important to show how we can create and inject positive ways to overcome this into our communities in simple and user-friendly ways,” she says. “Art is the perfect medium to reflect what communities feel, and exhibitions help to project that message louder, like instead of one person’s voice we hear a room full of people.”

Nicholas’ work can be seen in The ARTS at Mark’s Garage gallery through Nov. 22, and also online at http://www.thorntongallery.co.nz.



Courtyard Art

Kailua residents JoDee and Ernie Hunt say they bring a different feel to the Chinatown art scene in terms of presentation of the art and the artists they select to show in their space - the Chinatown Courtyard in the historic Mendonca Building on Smith Street.

But big or small, all artists and art lovers are welcome to the courtyard every First Friday.

“We have accomplished artists who have had things in other galleries, and we have emerging artists who no one has ever seen before,“says Hunt, who, with her husband, hand-picks each artist for show.“This time we have a musician from the North Shore (Otis Schaper), and his wife is an artist. She’ll have her work on the walls, and he’ll being playing.”

Harakeke Korero

The reason the gallery is open only once a month is mainly because it’s outdoors.

“I think the unusualness of it just being once a month, people try to drop in even if they’re headed for somewhere else,“Hunt says. “But because it’s an outdoor venue, there is not a possibility of having outdoor security.

“We tried it (leaving it open during the week) for awhile, and the plants were trampled. People were actually living there. It was really unmanageable.”

Though it’s not really art (unless you count the way it tastes), the Hunts are welcoming a fudge maker this First Friday.

“There’s a lady in Kailua who owns this place called The Cottage, and my husband stumbled on to her fudge,” explains Hunt. “He said, ‘Wow, this is terrific,’ and we invited her to bring her fudge.

“It’s kind of unusual for us because we don’t normally have food, and we don’t have small items like that,” Hunt continues.“We usually just have art on the walls, or large sculptures in the courtyard.”

Other artists at Friday’s festivities include courtyard first-time artist Lena Larkin and her jazz-themed paintings, and Maurice Hutchinson with his digital fine art.

Art adorns the walls of the Chinatown Courtyard

Hunt says the space also is available for rent for any special events or photo shoots, mentioning she would like to see more art groups and classes use the space.

“We’ve done the breast cancer awareness show a few years,“she says.“We’re open to groups that want to show a representative sample of what their group does.”

The Chinatown Courtyard, located at 1126 Smith St., is open to the public every first Friday. For more information on the gallery, e-mail Hunt at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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