On Friday 4th of December we officially will be presenting BIRDGANG - not only an art exhibition but an experience of who we are & what we do. The past 20 years has been a journey of self discovery as artists' & more recently the last 5 focussed on who we are as Māori. As we drove to Hastings over the Christmas holidays a few years back, three seperate Kereru flew over us as we talked about the direction we wanted to go painting birds & they were a sign to us that the journey we were travelling on was the correct one.
We were graffiti artists who were transitioning into urban contemporary artists' with a unique New Zealand perspective. But deeper than that was the fact we were Māori but we didn't identify with traditional art techniques & applications because we grew up in the city & used a spray can to paint.
We were commissioned for a series of Kiwirail boxes that would be positioned on the rail network & so we sat down in 2010 to decide on the content & subject matter we wanted to use. Manu (birds) from Aotearoa made sense as they represented so much of who we were as Māori & it was a relatebly image to the general public. What we didn't understand was that it would spark an interest & eventually an intense need to discover why they were so sacred to Māori & thus the journey of the birdgang began. It has been personal, each bird we paint symbolises a different aspect of who we are as Māori & the characteristics of our nature & the history of our people. It is more than nice bird art it is a visual story of our culture, of our lives & represents the extended whanau (family) who are so important to us on our journey in life. There has recently been an increase in artists' who are painting birds but beyond the pretty picture we want our audience to feel, see & comprehend that this is about who we are as people. It isn't about wowing the viewer, it is about drawing them into our world & allowing them to absorb the life & beauty of our culture.
'Huia', Kiwirail box 2010 - Charles & Janine Williams