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Hikurangi Edwards uses Resene paint to create her art

From her Wellington home studio, artist Hikurangi Edwards (Ngāruahine, Te Whānau-Ā-Apanui and Ngāti Porou) creates beautiful artworks, meticulously hand-carving Māori designs into layers of Resene paint. When describing her style, she says, “My art form of paint carving puts a modern spin on the traditional Māori wood carving to tell the stories of our tīpuna.” She chatted to us about her inspirations, her creative process and life as an artist. 

What inspires your work?

My art is heavily inspired by my Māori culture. Many of the stories I grew up with, some are mythological and some are historical accounts that I’m reading about. I’m drawn to old books and learning about the forgotten ones. My aim is to make known to everyone the history and stories that are long forgotten… while I’m sitting and drawing, I’m often listening intently to be guided in my work.

Hikurangi’s artform of paint carving puts a modern spin on the traditional Māori wood carving to tell the stories of our tīpuna. In this artwork Hikurangi is using the paint colours Resene Infused and Resene Gold.

How did you start out as an artist?

I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember. At six years old, my cousin and I would paint pictures with the dandelions and daisies. At 11 I had my first artwork exhibited at The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt – it was chosen by the Crown Rental Trust as the artwork for an annual breakfast invitation. I still have the invite. I’ve dabbled with different art forms over the years, but nothing has stuck like this has. There are many stories waiting for me to reveal and every week more and more keep coming. I think I’ll be busy with this for quite a while.

Take us through the process of creating one of your beautiful pieces.

First, I prep and layer the board with lots of Resene paint. The number of layers depends on how many tones. Mostly I do two, which is approximately 40 layers. The great thing about Resene Lumbersider Low Sheen is that it can be painted straight on, without the need for a primer. 

Then I wait for two to three hours for the paint to dry, so I often have a lot of pieces on the go at once. The hope is that each day I can apply three layers in the morning, noon and at night. Once I’ve completed the bottom layers, then I add the top layers with a contrasting colour.

Once it is fully dried, I start to draw my designs. The majority of my designs are freehand, allowing the story to come through. If it’s a specific commission, then I will template the design to fit with the board. When I’m sitting and drawing, I often listen intently to be guided in my work. 

After that I carve the outline and then the whole board, then I do the final touches and apply a clear finish

Hikurangi loves the amazing range of colours available at her local Resene ColorShop.
Hikurangi has been trying out Resene Ultramarine, which is a new colour in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen.

What inspired you to start using Resene paint?

The colour range is amazing. The thickness of the paint and quantities I can get are perfect for my technique. I mostly use Resene Lumbersider Low Sheen, but I am trying out the new Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen colour Resene Ultramarine.

What is your favourite piece you have created?

My favourite piece is Te Raeakiaki (Pencarrow) it was part of my Kāhui Mounga series. For this piece I used Resene Half Forest Green and Resene Gold metallic paint.

The Kāhui Mounga series was of six mountain ranges around Wellington, where I live.  My ancestors traversed these mountains in the many ‘heke’ (migrations) south. These mountains provided shelter and sustenance when my tīpuna were looking for a new home. I like to think of these mountains in their bare form, without all the houses and roads and how dense the forests were and all the streams before we took over. It’s an acknowledgement and recognition that I see them and thank them for keeping us safe.

How has your artistic journey and your work evolved over time?

My technique has improved a lot and I’m constantly testing different techniques and styles.

The majority of Hikurangi’s designs are freehand, allowing the story to come through.

How do you manage work life balance as an artist?

I definitely don’t do this well, haha! Like most artists I have a day job, so together with my family duties and juggling art life, most days and weeks are very busy for me. The dream in the next few years is to be a full-time artist.

What has been your career highlight to date?

The piece I did on our tīpuna Hamokiterangi was very special. For this piece I used 40 layers of Resene Alabaster and a topcoat with Resene Pohutukawa. The piece was chosen as a finalist in the Kīngi Tūheitia Portraiture Awards earlier this year and is currently doing a two-year tour around Aotearoa.

Gallery representation:

Hikurangi is represented by a small selection of Māori owned and operated art galleries The Poi Room and Unity Collection.

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