Leanne Culy – artist / stylist / designer
Born in Waipawa in 1963, but spent most of her adult life in Wellington were she worked as a freelance graphic designer and stylist in the film industry.
After having 2 children, Beanie and Billie she and her husband spent 4 years in the Wairarapa, before moving to the Bay of Islands. It was there that the extreme isolation and beauty drove her back to her art.
I have a huge concern for the environment.
In Northland, with its lush and largely untouched beauty, the kind of change and development that is taking place on the landscape more recently, I found disturbing. We have such a great opportunity for compromise. Being such a young country, we could learn so much from the rest of the world’s mistakes.
The blend of Maori, new immigrant and early settler populations had stark differences in how they lived and how they saw the future in the Bay of Islands and Far North. This difference became of interest to me and was a powerful influence in my work. I have a passion for nostalgia. The way things were, old baches, un-developed beachscapes and untouched landscapes.
I love to mix the traditional Māori colours, black, brown, red, and white with the bright, pacific colours used by some Maori on the painted houses in small towns like Moerewa, Kawakawa, Kohukohu and Rawene.
Although my oars look purely decorative, they do tell a story, as a totem would, and for me show the impact of European settlers on the land. They often focus on the positive but with and under lying note of concern.
They’re a vehicle for my environmental grievances, so I often focus on nostalgic images of New Zealand the way it was before development, as my form of protest. I also add Maori images and manipulate them, as a symbol of togetherness. I will fill a Tiki with roses or wrap an Māori artefact in lace for example. I also mix lace with flax, teapots with traditional Maori tools and religious icons with spiritual objects from the land.