I have mentioned before my admiration of the glass of Northland artist Kathy Shaw-Urlich. Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting Kathy in her workshop and seeing the wonderful new glass windows she is designing and making for the marae of her Ngati Hau people at Whakapara, north of Whangarei.
This is a project supported by a Te Waka Toi Creative NZ Arts Grant, which Kathy was awarded last year. A new wharekai (dining room) Te Tawaka is to be built next year, and the project includes three windows for that, which Kathy has almost completed. Currently she is working on the three panels that will fit in the main window of the wharenui Te Ihi o Nehua, which was opened in 1998 (see http://www.naumaiplace.com/site/whakapara/home/page/147/marae-buildings/).
The designs for the windows have been developed by Kathy arising from discussions on the marae. There were also visits to places that are special to Ngati Hau such as the river and waterfall Waiariki and the maunga Huruiki. Kathy then selected and cut to shape just the right pieces of glass. Some of them she has formed in the kiln and decorated with appropriate designs, with assistance from some of the people of the marae.
The wharekai windows contain themes and elements that relate to the awa (river), with tuna (eels) and fishing being depicted, and watery elements in the design. The wharenui window relates to the sense of being on the maunga, with its wide views over the landscape. It includes on one side reference to the
eponymous ancestor of Ngati Hau, Hautakowera, who is depicted by the reamy glass representing his breath (hau) and on the other side the dogskin cloak with its stylised cloakpin which represents Kahukuri, son of Hautakowera. There is also reference to the obsidian (volcanic glass) which occurs on the mountain.
These cut pieces will be finished and leaded to form the central portion of the wharenui window
Even in the rough surroundings of the workshop, the beauty of these windows was evident - when they are finally installed in place, they will look amazing.
This project follows on from Kathy's making of the window for the adjacent St Isaac's Church at Whakapara in 1999. The window in the church (below) also contains many references to places, people and ideas important to Ngati Hau.
When the wharekai
is opened, Whakapara will have a remarkable group of buildings with
wonderful stained glass by this talented artist who is one of their own.