Mandy Cherry Joass

Mandy Cherry Joass Puapua Whenua (wreath and shield for the land), 2019

Recycled Luxaflex aluminium venetian blinds 12000 x 11000 x 200 mm approx.

Puapua Whenua (wreath and shield for the land) is an abstract symbolic armor, an offering of healing and protection to the earth. It invites a shift of perspective and behavior towards our environment, developing new healthier patterns, tiny repetitions, which combine to make larger change.

The work evokes the grid of raranga (weaving), the rhythm of a tukutuku panel, the patterning of a tapa cloth, the careful lines of an intricate quilt or the regimented crosses of a tapestry. A sense of shared community often accompanies the making of these kinds of taonga/heirlooms, to be handed down through generations. This sense of community expands and translates to a shared ownership of our moana (oceans) and whenua (land), creating a new community which transcends borders, cultures and generations. It took a loving community, the hands of many friends and family members along with support in the form of a recycling arrangement with Luxaflex New Zealand, to bring together the 22,000 components of ‘Puapua Whenua’.

Mandy Cherry Joass

Born in Whangarei. Lives and works in Christchurch.

Mandy Cherry Joass graduated from the University of Canterbury with a BFA in sculpture in 2015. Her studies ignited a deeper connection with ancestral knowledge which she expresses through raranga (weaving). In Joass’s work raranga has become a metaphor through which she explores themes relating to postcolonial identity.

Of Ngapuhi whakapapa, and also a descendant of the first European settlers to arrive in New Zealand, Joass expresses multiculturalism through her work. She predominantly works with recycled aluminium venetian blinds, the material serving as an industrial placeholder for harakeke (flax). Through her work Joass celebrates the revival of Māoritanga since its suppression during the 20th century: her use of venetian blinds from that era refers to the loss of community for Māori. She frees the material from its conventional linear use, transforming it by weaving and riveting. Following in the footsteps of her kuia, Joass seeks to preserve and perpetuate all things mātauranga Maori.

Follow on Instagram @mandyjoass