Tessa Aroha Harris ✿ Kōrimurimuri dreams

Loop

9 September 2021

Keri-Mei Zagrobelna lies on the mat woven by Tessa Aroha Harris and dreams of the traditional Māori seaweed dish made by her grandmother.

Tessa Aroha Harris is not only a carver working in stone, bone and contemporary materials. She also brings unique innovation and environmental awareness to larger installation works and public art projects.

One such example is expressed in her latest community project Kōrimurimu where Harris was the lead creative director and artist. This stunning project came from the collaboration of Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Isthmus (designers), Airey Consultants (structural engineers), Cookes (manufacturer) and Mana whenua.

Kōrimurimuri brings raranga, traditional Māori weaving techniques and contemporary materials, together in an innovative and expressive way. The work also gives light to elements of the traditional Māori kupenga (net) which is customarily used for fishing.

The name of the piece is Kōrimurimuri, which means to be covered in seaweed. Harris’s intentions for this piece is not only to have an actively engaging playful work but to also serve as a reminder and a visual ecological response to our indigenous waters and food sources.

“We wanted to highlight the decline of seaweed in our waters, a principal food source for many fish species now also in decline,”  – Tessa Aroha Harris

Kōrimurimuri is suspended above water in a net of woven green safety webbing offering a beautiful, tactile, playful yet calming experience. People are encouraged to lie on the flax-like surface and listen to the ebb and flow of the tide below whilst gazing up to the sky.

I personally like to think that as I lie on and experience Kōrimurimu that I would be taken back to memories of my grandmother in the kitchen cooking up korengo, a traditional Māori seaweed dish. I contemplate whether this food source will still be around for my children’s generation, and what are the small things we can all do in our daily practice to help take the pressure off our environment and indigenous food sources.

This work by Tessa Aroha Harris is more than exciting, it brings together so many key elements “literally” woven together to form a beautiful story. I look forward to following Tessa’s artistic career and seeing what she has in store for us in the future.

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