These clay works reference the whakatauki (proverb) Ko Au te Whenua Ko te Whenua Ko Au, asserting women as primaries with the land, linked by whakapapa and central to a Maori world view. This world view became severely eroded by draconian policies of confiscation, alienation and assimilation.
These figures were installed at the Drachten Arts Theatre Gallery, The Netherlands, during a residency in 2017. The exhibition led into New Zealand Week, a showcase of contemporary dance and performance by New Zealand artists.
Alongside the original exhibition a collaboration work on the whakapapa of clay was performed illustrating Ko Au te Whenua Ko te Whenua Ko Au.
This collaboration with Choreographer and Laureate Louise Potiki Bryant explored clay/skin and the whakapapa/geology of clay. The video installation ‘Kiri Wai’ (Skin/Water) alludes to the process of recycling clay.
Ngati Uenuku ki Maunganui o te Ao, Ngati Tuwharetoa
Paerau Corneal was born in 1961. She completed a Diploma in Craft Design, Maori at Wairaiki Polytechnic, Rotorua in 1989 and a Master of Maori Visual Arts from Massey University, Palmerston North in 2009.
Her work has been exhibited in numerous major exhibitions around New Zealand since 1989 and was included in Treasures of the Underworld in the New Zealand pavilion for the World Expo in Seville, Spain in 1992.
She has been a participant in Pacific Arts Festivals in Rarotonga, 1992, the Solomon Islands, 2013 and Guam, 2016.
She is a member of the Nga Kaihanga Uku (Maori Ceramic Artists’ Collective) and has exhibited widely with this group.