Using contemporary media and the tools of abstraction Kahukiwi evokes a memory of early taonga (treasure) of the same name – kahukiwi, a rare and precious traditional Maori kiwi feather cloak. Rendering the silky down of silver-grey kiwi feathers, the multiple shafts of steel cover a field of linen, the support for weaving – a modern muka (flax). A labour of love, the weaving is made in repeated minute and precise actions – each shaft pierced through the substrate at distances judged by eye.
In an archival rethink, the steel Kahukiwi assuages conservation concerns. The rabbit – an introduced pest destroying native kiwi habitats – is reduced to glue skin size, here preserving the linen field. Approximating the volume of feathers from a plucked kiwi, the minimalist artwork offers a new heritage option.
At night and when lit, the artwork mimics the surreptitious behaviour of the nocturnal flightless Kiwi. Raking shadows blur and camouflage the steel outlines against the bare linen ground. The steel drifts downward, shimmers, amasses depth, appearing soft and sensual. While tempting touch, beak-like sharp points prick the persistent.