Keri-Mei Zagrobelna finds an Aotearoa jeweller who can trigger a smile from new COVID rituals.
Ngāpuhi, Te Āti Awa
Frances Stachl is a maker that I have much admiration for and over the past two decades Stachl has been crafting objects and jewellery that resonates with her immediate environment and explores a deeper conversation with process, materials and identity.
Based in her studio gallery workshop in Wanganui, New Zealand, Stachl spends her time making bespoke pieces and enjoying cups of coffee with the parāoa parai (Māori fry bread) from the Saturday market down the road.
One of her works titled “hōroi o ringaringa” (wash your hands) responds to the Covid 19 Pandemic and explores the cultural nuances through language and interpretation. Stachl not only highlights te reo Māori within her work, but also invites us as an audience to look to the deeper meaning behind worlds and also to consider an object’s function or purpose. According to Stachl:
In te reo Māori the phrase “horoi ō ringaringa” has different connotations to the English language “wash your hands”. Removed from the context of a western biblical or literary history it becomes about a simple shared cleansing ritual performed to keep a community safe. Like the way we wash our hands after leaving an urupā for the collective spiritual and physical well being of a community.
The “Grinner Series”, which Stachl feels belongs to the same family of works, has a playful aesthetic. I ponder if the connection is to do directly with whānau (connectedness) or perhaps to add some joy and lightness in our current everyday existence where social distancing, sanitising and the constant washing of our hands is the norm.
The washing and attention we now give our hands bring awareness to what we choose to also adorn our fingers with.
Looking down and seeing a friendly face on our finger smiling up at us brings a grin to our own faces. Stachl’s “Harikoa” rings, which is the kupu Māori for joy, can serve as a reminder to seek out the simple things in life that bring ease or comfort in such uncertain times.
When asking Stachl about this I wasn’t too far from the truth when she stated:
The relationship between the Harikoa, Putiputi and Hōroi rings is partly about the physical feeling of wearing a large flat ring. For me they feel a bit like shields, or protection. The grinner faces were a little like a kaitiaki( guardian) for me when I first made them, a guardian for my finger at a time in my life when I was feeling very anxious and uncertain. The larger harikoa rings were a more relaxed silly version of that, but having a friend on my finger still gives me that feeling of protection and safety.
One day I hope to adorn my own finger with a Stachl kaitiaki guardian to offer myself a sense of comfort in such an unpredictable time.
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