With their colourful, sculptural and visually dynamic surfaces, Peata Larkin’s paintings stimulate associations with traditional weaving patterns, the movement of light and colour over water and landscape and visual elements of the present day such as digital computer pixels and DNA strands. Pioneering a distinctive and individual way of working Larkin pushes small beads of paint through a mesh to reveal abstracted compositions, resulting in visually and technically unique paintings that ripple with colour, and have a very real physical presence.
The exhibition Tuhourangi Revival at Milford Galleries Dunedin celebrates and explores the ongoing history and knowledge surrounding Tuhourangi with a particular reference to the building of a Marae this year on Lake Tarawera. Of Tuhourangi and Tuwharetoa decent, Larkin focuses on the area surrounding Lakes Tarawera and Rotomahana, her ancestral home. The Tuhourangi tribe resided here before the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886 which destroyed villages, now buried along with the Pink and White Terraces.
In Tuhourangi Portrait colours and pattern reference the Pink and White Terraces “a powerful metaphor for cultural identity, loss and revival.” (1) The stepped poutama (stairway to heaven) composition revealed in this work and also in the Tarawera Poutama compositions “is similar to the geometric patterns in woven tukutuku panels in Maori meeting houses and represents the acquisition of knowledge.”(2)
The organic and distorted forms of the Rotomahan’ and Tarawera works, suggest movement, energy, fluidity and rhythm. Associations with the changing light and colours of the landscape are easily made while engaging with the mixing and melding of form and colour.
Peata Larkin continues to push the boundaries of structured space; opening possibilities and the potential for change and movement within the confinements of the grid. Visual codes and systems are ways in which to pass information in both the ancient and modern world, and Larkin creates her own language that calls to mind multiple associations with Maori tukutuku and Patiki patterns, binary systems, digital pixels, maps and diagrams.
Between traditional and contemporary, organic and rigid, macro and micro, Peata Larkin’s paintings open up a space where ideas, knowledge, culture and history is ever present.
1. Virginia Were, “Stairway to Heaven,” Art News, Winter 2009, p. 51.