Archival print, Conservation Glass Framed
840 x 1350 mm
Entitled “Grey Ghost”, this piece is inspired by the taonga (treasure) that are New Zealand’s people, land, forests and birds. Celebrating multi-cultural and multi-faith elements.
The body of the kōkako, which is usually grey, is instead painted here with watery washes of the blues and greens of New Zealand’s forests and waterways.
Peeking through shadow is a stylised korowai (feather cloak) as if worn by the bird itself. Intricate patterns painted in thin white ink that reference Māori kowhaiwhai designs, tukutuku panels and ancient hindu sacred geometry, drip down the torso. Sofia uses multi-cultural, multi-faith elements in celebration of her own mixed Maori, Swedish and Irish heritage, as well as her experiences growing up in NZ and overseas in Samoa, Sri Lanka and China due to her father’s engineering work.
A watchful, ancestral presence.
The creative process for this painting took place in Nelson and therefore the triangular patterns on top of the bird’s head could be seen as a map of the top of the south and bottom of the north island.
The final detail painted was the orange wattle, proudly showcasing a Moko Kauae or chin tattoo, traditionally worn by Māori women to signify mana and status. This touch of human marking brings this image of a bird into the realm of dignified portraiture and reminded the artist of a watchful, ancestral presence.
Sofia recently discovered the unusual story of the ‘unextinction’ of South Island’s elusive orange-wattled kōkako. The Grey Ghost, whether its modern-day existence is myth or fact, serves as another reminder of our sacred role as kaitiaki (caretakers) of the natural world.