Jo Tito at Vital Transformations Mauri Ora
Title: Ko Rangi, Ko Papa, Ka Puta Ko Rongo
Artist: Jo Tito
Iwi: Taranaki, Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao, Ngāti Pikiao
These words in Māori are the beginning of a karakia that acknowledge some of the children of Ranginui and Papatūānuku. One of those children is Rongomātāne – the atua of peace and cultivated foods.
It is this atua that I reference in this art installation; a work about bringing ritual back into our lives, sitting in a circle just as our ancestors sat around a fire to wānanga and share stories.
This is a circle of change. We enter into the space to share conversation, not necessarily to agree, but as a way of understanding another perspective. It is also a space of contemplation, solitude, reflection. Because all change begins with each of us. And when we step into this space, we open up to that possibility for ourselves and all those who we enter into dialogue with.
The work has many layers; each plaited flax rope tells the story of Ranginui and Papatūānuku through their many children, the elements of nature. Each time that people come in contact with the work another story becomes a part of it’s landscape. Like life and nature, things are constantly changing and moving. It is an active space of change.
The space is also directional, so you enter according to the location and the stones and flax paper ground the work to this landscape. When I exhibited this work in
Manizales Colombia in 2017, I was given some ancient fossils from the museum collection to ground the work there. It is amazing how much of an effect the stones have on the work, their ability to gather people in conversation.
The work has an environmental message, at any time it can be returned to Papatūānuku. I’m happy to exhibit this work at home in Taranaki, to ground the work in this landscape where it all began, a place for me of immense healing and creativity.
Jo Tito is a full time Māori artist whose work has featured at home in Aotearoa NZ and in other countries including Turkey, USA, Indonesia, Canada, Colombia and Australia.
Jo’s creative work is a collaboration with nature and her ongoing project Earth * Water * Light * Stone is a merging of nature with photography, paint, words and digital media to share stories of connection that speak for the environment and for humanity.
Also a passionate gardener, Jo documents the growing of her garden through words and photography. ”My garden is my space for healing, reflection, learning and creativity, everything is there. Many of my ideas and learning come from growing my garden and contemplating with nature.”
She also values her Taranaki and Te Arawa ancestral roots. “I am inspired by the lives that my ancestors lived and the inspiration that they lived with nature. They had such a respect for nature that is deeply embedded in our art forms and language. Our language is so beautiful, it all connects back to nature and so I draw on this knowledge in my quest to create art that speaks for the environment.”