Te Rongo Kirkwood works with a combination of materials, amongst them fused glass and textiles, and for this new collection of works, she takes the realms of the heavens and the earth as inspiration. Combining Māori mythologies, scientific observations, and exceptional craftsmanship, Kirkwood has created sculptural objects that walk across many worlds.
The Heavenly Realms pieces present seemingly abstract patterns on fine glass oblongs. Akin to Sumerian tablets or runic inscriptions on stone, their messages may be read providing the viewer has the key. In this case, the patterning turns out to be visualisations of the radiowave frequencies emitted by each celestial body. Suggestive of ritual and worship, other works may be worn. Replete with symbolic geometries and markings, they hint at potential transformations and revelations.
Alongside these are a set of the glass cloaks for which Kirkwood is most well known. Harakeke weaving techniques are combined with fused and etched glass forms to create cloaks that function as sculptural objects within a gallery but which can also be imagined draped across shoulders or wrapped around a body. The past is not referenced in passing but is present within each woven strand of flax fibre, carved motif, and the very form of each cloak.
Te Rongo Kirkwood has realised concepts of the heavens and the earth through a complex language of colour, texture, form and function. Each of her works is a sum of exquisitely rendered parts, which come together to illustrate a larger whole.