I Saw You in My Garden, 03 - 28 October 2017
"A state of (in)betweenness"

Star leads a poet's life.
She said write from your heart.
This I choose to do.
Bear with me.

Straight from the heart.

In Star's garden I meet her mother Tilly. She is wearing one of her vibrant hats. With a big smile she gives me some seeds, which I plant and over time they grow into tall sunflowers. They whisper to me of the wind and crashing surf, reverberate.

I smell the damp earth.
manuka in flower.
manu proliferate,
manu heaven this Pakiri.

Tilly waves and keeps talking, as she does, and weaves through beds of flowers, resplendent. She then walks up the hill next to Star's whare and disappears into a soft mist.

In my mind she will always speak to me, in dreams and in Star's paintings, because that's what poets and artists do. Tilly resides within this exhibition, amongst others, in this garden. She is here embodied in spirit, the very essence of poetry laid down in paint.

Star has chosen painting as the primary medium for articulating her poetic reality and sensibility. She creates objects of great resonance, as well as of dissonance and everything in between. The best poems activate worlds by offering possibilities between the initial literal concrete meanings of the words. Star's paintings perform in much the same way; they are not definitive or accurate representations, nor are they a result of a carefully mapped premeditation. Star is not much interested in likeness. She places more significance on essence and inference, of the body and spirit, and on the physical, cosmic, imaginative, intuitive world around her. Her art is an expressive, painterly, poetic form that focuses on the various states between the tangible.

In the green morning
I wanted to be a heart
A heart
And in the ripe evening
I wanted to be a nightingale
A nightingale

(Soul, turn orange-coloured.
Soul, turn the colour of love.)

In the vivid morning
I wanted to be myself
A heart

And at the evenings end
I wanted to be my voice.
A nightingale.

turn. orange-coloured.
Turn the colour of love.

Federico Garcia Lorca

The paintings in I Saw You In My Garden revel in and reveal the power of empathy and love, of permanence and of the transitory, of opposites and contradictions, of harmony and chaos, of action and passivity, of protest articulated softly and protest shouted out, of guardianship not ownership, of aloneness and community, of pain and joy, of desolation and celebration and of beauty and aesthetic incongruity. Star does this in a flux-like, visceral manner, vacillating between the tangible and mystical, between real-world objects and figures, between amorphous entities and the enlivened inanimate.

contained within
the frame on board,
or canvas stretched,
this paint layered
in such a way,
held me

And this layering, expressive, dynamic, interplay of colour and form does not demand full meaning, does not demand quantification and assessment. It seeks more questions of itself. More questions of the viewer. The best poetry, like music, can move one to tears, to a state of cathartic profundity. With the medium of painting the journey of the poet is more difficult, the poetry more mediated, less direct than spoken words or the effect and sounds of music.

A great writer and poet, who was blind in later life, wrote:

There is nothing in the world that is not mysterious, but the mystery is more evident in certain things than others: in the sea, in the eyes of the elders, in the colour yellow, and in music.
Jorge Luis Borges

Some of Star's paintings have made me cry, I confess now, rather publicly. I don't care, my tears are but memories, and therefore reduced to fictions, especially to those who have not borne witness to them. Quite frankly the world needs more tears for the right reasons, not hardened indifference, not buried emotion - this just leads to oppression of the self and of others and, by rational extension, to conflict and war.

In these paintings I have discovered - in between potted flowers or bouquets set free - wahine and the Madonna congregating, vibrating energy, elemental whistling and humming, reverberating, a landscape unfolding, the sky revolving, revealing itself over time and it moves me to a state of confusion. Happily so, because faculty of reason, of analysis, is subservient to a private and, at times, collective exchange which is emotional. The space between feeling, the space obstructing feeling is negated, these paintings are a poet's way of embracing.

I know this phenomenon is true for many people. This is what art is for. It makes a difference in this world. It makes us more human.

In Star's garden
an angel,

transient lightness
of touch,
desire here suspended heart,
through a
bell's chime,
at the end
cut flowers.

In Star's garden
an angel.