Northlanders have been enjoying a wonderful exhibition at Kaan Zamaan Gallery in Kerikeri. I have blogged before about the stained-glass of Kathy Shaw-Urlich, the British-born woman of Maori descent who now lives at Whatuwhiwhi in the Far North. Kathy trained in the mediaeval skills of stained glass painting. She draws on imagery from her Maori heritage as well as her European background and uses those wonderful skills to produce amazing work (see my previous blog entries in 2012 and 2013 http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2012/09/kathy-shaw-urlichs-tokerau-matariki.html, http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/new-glass-for-whakapara-marae.html).
Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and has been undergoing a range of treatment for the disease. The panels which are the centre-piece of this exhibition were created in a ten week period of respite from treatment prior to starting a strenuous course of chemotherapy which is currently underway (Kathy, our thoughts are with you). The artist tells us that the ideas behind the works had been developing throughout her treatment.
The title work for the exhibition, Easter Rising (above) offers a nod to the Irish Easter rising of 1916 and her father's Dublin ancestors. The range of rich imagery reflects Easter goodies, and Easter hares in the fields of the Northern spring. In a central reference to her bid for recovery, a phoenix rises before a Cross, around which are gathered the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene and Saint John the Beloved, as they would appear in mediaeval glass. Another mediaeval emblem is the White Hart of Hertford, Kathy's birthplace, one of which she saw on Easter Monday 1997.
Many layers of ideas and symbols are present in all the works in the exhibition, reflecting Kathy's bicultural heritage and her thoughts about her own past, present and future. These are explored in the explanatory labels for the works.
|Red Monkey Knife Edge|
|Hanging On for Dear Life|
2016 is the Chinese year of the Red Monkey. This work also references the fierce red chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, while Hanging on for Dear Life includes a ladder to Heaven, eventually, across the Great Water.
|St Michel and the Dragon|
In these works Kathy explores the heritage of both her mother and her husband in Te Wai Pounamu, and her own experiences in Celtic Brittany.
|Maria All Mothers|
The Blue Madonna is adorned with flowers and stars, and with the holy dove God's hand blesses. The healing Archangel Raphael blesses a woman in prayer, who attains an angel's wing.
The Kahu diptych references the hunter-like Orion, with feather cloak for protection and flight, and Te Wahine o Te Moana, who joins Orion in the heavens.
The Green Healing Archangel Raphael, with Jesus suffering on the cross, His breast scars like barbed wire, prayers of supplication, and healing green plants spiky aloe and kawakawa, prolific in the Far North. Revelation 22: 2 references the Tree of Life, with its leaves for the healing of all nations, the central motif in the window by Wilhelmina Geddes in Belfast, which I discussed in my blog on William Wheeler (see http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2016/03/and-now-its-irish-in-belfast-and-te.html). That window, which Kathy drew to my attention, has been important to her for many years, all the more so now, with its message of hope of healing for all.
Acknowledgement: I'm grateful to Kathy Shaw-Urlich and to Julia Reinholt of Kaan Zamaan Gallery in Kerikeri for permission to photograph these works and reproduce them here.