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Sheree Foster

Sheree Foster Aotearoa Artist Magazine

SHEREE FOSTERS ARTISTIC JOURNEY

By Ben Lavin

Sheree Foster has always been involved in one way or another with creative things. Before becoming a full time, self-taught artist “...graduating from the school of Life’’, she was in Banking, Event Marketing and then, after having her family, a Design Build Consultant, with interests in photography, floral, and landscape design. She actually never considered becoming an artist until a visiting friend observed a piece she had created lying on a table and then asked her what gallery she had bought it from. She was quite taken aback to hear that Sheree had made it and after learning there were no plans for it she promptly decided to buy it on the spot. It now hangs proudly on their wall in their new contemporary beach house in Waihi Beach - all two metres of it, and recently been joined by piece number two another two metre monster. Thus began Sheree’s adventure as an artist which she admits was a bit of a crossroads in her life. What should she do next? 

After doing several weddings and seeing the wastage of flowers for one day she decided she wanted to create something from this and the idea came to her of repurposing floral waste into all sorts of art pieces from wreaths to busts of heads, all in pre-loved flowers and often with a vintage flair. The enjoyment of creating this art, as well as the pleasure of seeing one of her pieces in its forever place, was what really motivated her to keep going. 

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Bernadette Ross 1 Aotearoa Artist Magazine

Bernadette Ross

Bernadette Ross Aotearoa Artist Magazine

RARANGA HARAKEKE

Gaining a Bachelor of Māori Art between 2010 and 2013, at Te Wananga O Aotearoa was the solution for Bernadette Ross after she sustained permanent damage to her spine from landscaping.

Bernadette adores working with plant material. “After visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK, when I was a younger mum, I was drawn to the woven artefacts on display. After 18 years in the UK I returned to NZ with my family and the journey into Raranga began eight years later.” She feels very privileged to live both by the sea and bush, claiming the inspiration is all around!

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Legacy 1-Alice Spittle-aotearoa-artist

Alice Spittle

Alice Spittle-aotearoa-artistBeing an artist for Alice Spittle is all about being in nature, around harakeke, sharing time with her Nani’s and other artists, preparing fibre, weaving and most importantly, this is all so she can share and pass her knowledge to her children and future generations. “My children and husband are my motivation and constantly support and encourage me to follow my passion.”

Having studied Māori design and art at Te Wānanga O Raukawa (The University of Ōtaki) in 2001, with Pip Devonshire and Elaine Beven, Alice spent many years with influential weavers learning traditional arts practices. “In 2017 I went back to study level 5 raranga and focused on kete whakairo (finely woven patterned baskets) at Te Wānanga O Aotearoa with Morehu Flutey-Henare.” Her journey to becoming an artist began when she and her immediate family moved up to the Kapiti Coast. “My husband was working full time and I was home with our daughter. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, or even what I was passionate about. My mother-in-law brought me some paints and brushes and got me to try playing around with paint, which I really enjoyed. My stepfather and mother knew about the Te Wānanga O Raukawa and encouraged me to go check it out. I did and that was the start of me looking into raranga and painting. I had always been creative as my mother was always playing with clay or doing watercolours. so this felt comfortable for me.”

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Marianne Aschenbrenner

Marianne Aschenbrenner

It is often said that the past is a great place to look for keys to the future or the best way forward. For Raglan-based weaver Marianne Aschenbrenner, this is in fact the case as she looks to traditional Māori legends and late weaving expert Mick Pendergrast for this.“Mick inspires me. It is a thrill to work with nature and follow early weaving traditions. He made it his mission to collect, document and preserve the knowledge of flax weaving, so it is not forgotten.”
Marianne’s inspiration does not stop there, with colour, patterns and nature also contributing to the beautiful creations she comes up with. These are intertwined into her work, along with an open mind as to what to create next. “Learning never stops, I love to explore new techniques, patterns and enjoy experimenting with different colour combinations.” It would be too easy to look upon her work and not see the effort or thought that goes into each piece. Understanding the subtle nuances of each piece, combined with the work involved from harvesting to resting time, right through to the final product truly makes her work something to behold. Marianne predominantly works with Phormium tenax, more commonly known as New Zealand flax. “It is a plant with many hidden qualities that were valuable in the past and have been rediscovered again. I am combining different leaves – flax, kiekie and pingao – for my bags and hats at the moment. It is a thrill to work with nature and follow these early weaving traditions. Depending on the seasons, flax might need a time to rest, but it is the perfect time to harvest kiekie and pingao. After flax, kiekie leaves are precious. This plant can be found in the New Zealand bush.”
Marianne Aschenbrenner

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Weaving-wendy-naepflin-aotearoa-artist

Wendy Naepflin

wendy-naepflin-aotearoa-artistALL FLAX

When I saw some woven blades on a flax bush it ignited my curiosity. I devoured the ‘Fun with Flax’ book by Mick Pendergrast and then Ali Brown’s book on weaving flax flowers, and was completely hooked! Attending my first weaving weekend in 2010 at Pa Te Aroha Marae in Whirinaki, Hokianga, was where I first started learning traditional weaving. 

It is important to me to follow Maori tikanga (protocol) in the harvesting and preparation of flax. In doing this I acknowledge the many people who have shared the gift of raranga (weaving) with me. I have been lucky to weave with some of the best who have kindly and gently mentored me along the way. Mandy Sunlight is the kaiako (teacher) and organiser of those wonderful weekends, where knowledge, great kai (food) and many a laugh are shared freely. Two highly accomplished artists, Toi te Rito Mahi and Maureen Lander, often join these weekends, proving that weaving has evolved into a serious contemporary art form.

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