Jessica Carol Metuariki

The Generational Timeline

Bachelor of Visual Arts Painting Identity

This project has given me the opportunity to research where my grandparents originated from and to obtain a deeper understanding of their migration story; from a place that is full of history and its own unique culture, to a new place of opportunities and struggles. From this research, I have constructed a timeline of generational stories and memories in a form of patterns, interwoven from the past, present, and future. My work is inspired by the Cook Island traditional craft of Tivaevae; a bedspread created by Cook Island women displaying their cultural heritage. This work is also a replica of my grandparents and great grandparents' surroundings in the islands. Just as Cook islanders often express their journey through carvings and tatau, I have created mind maps of my own journey and incorporated them with traditional patterns and forms of ‘Mokiko’. My art practice has been a journey in itself; through learning my cultural knowledge to representing and reflecting the stories of sacrifices, struggles, and blessings. This project has allowed me to rediscover connections by embracing and honouring my cultural backbone and Identity. Using a combination of acrylic paint on canvas alongside traditional processes of Kei, pi’api’a, and Vaito cements the way of expression without any limits.

Kia Orana tatou katoatoa i to tatou  aroa maata o te Atua, Ko Jessica Metuariki toku ingoa, Ko Takeariki Metuariki toku Papa, Ko Tania Pokoati toku Mama no Nga Pu Toru me Mangarongaro mai.

As a child of a mother who is a first-generation New Zealand born Cook Islander and my father was born in Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands.  I am from the beautiful Islands of Nukuroa, Tongareva, and Mauke. My parents were my link to my cultural heritage as it was their parents, my grandparents who opened the door to my Cook Island heritage.

My art practice has given me the time and opportunity to research and obtain knowledge to express where my grandparents originated from and their migration to a new place. I now have a greater understanding of their homeland in the Cook Islands and their unique culture that is rich in their language and artifacts.

This work has enabled me to showcase the migration from the Pacific islands to a new place that involved storytelling from my grandparents, parents, and the effects of colonisation in the Pacific. The struggles and conflicts that all came along throughout their journey to find a better life in New Zealand was expressed through the processes of Mokiko, Kei, pi’api’a, and Vaito.

The NZ Pacific islander artist Michel Tuffery has been an inspiration to me and his quote ‘We’re this third generation’, says the artist, ‘We were born here, in New Zealand. If you go to a new place you create a new culture, and that’s what we’re doing. I don’t think it’s a trend at all, it's coming to grips[1]. Has been the force behind my interest in referencing my Pacific Identity in my art practice and this quote has provided the foundation and guide in creating these pieces of work.

I have created a 5 metre Canvas called “Metuariki” that represents a timeline of generational stories in a form of patterns that are inspired by Cook Island traditional craft of ‘Tivaevae’. Tivaevae’ is a traditional bedspread created by Cook Island women displaying their cultural heritage and is a replica of our grandparents and great grandparents' surroundings in the Islands using patches of material. Also, I have created a personal space named “Pokoati” that showcases family photos from the first to third generation onwards and videos of my Grandma talking about her past stories which are in relation to my painting. My art piece is in segments that reflect each generational story and it has been an honour to create this as it is a dedication to my Beautiful Grandma Marion Taperu Pokoati who has left a legacy that I will ensure to share with future generations to come.

Meitaki Maata,

Jessica Carol Metuariki