Te Tuhi Public Art Gallery NZ — 2004

From the gallery entrance to the curator's door, a monochromatic 30 sq metre grid of crisp white disposable nappies/diapers is stretched and woven in a continuous undulating field. Through materials, process, situation and title, the weaving explores a concept of kaitiaki, a core principle in Te Ao Māori and a cornerstone in Aoteaoroa New Zealand's founding treaty Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi). Embedded in ancestral practices, this touchstone extends through colonial laws to a web of systems for the management and care of the land and environment, art and taonga (treasure), and to the collective care of children, where kaitiaki refers also to baby-sitter. From ceiling to floor, the mass repeating modules of infant diapers frame a transactional space for reflection, where the ambiguities and ambivalence of consumerism, convenience and waste management are pitted against the wonder-filled aura of human potential. Open and ready to receive, each module suggests an unique and precious life, as it overlaps and is joined through a stepped geometry familiar across cultures and time. Kaitiaki weaves sacred concepts through a profane yet also precious material, proposing an absorbing membrane or padded cell that simultaneously attracts and repels.