16 hours before I was due to fly from New Zealand to Australia for Burning Seed 2019 I got a terrible call from my mother.
“I’ve just been told by the doctor that Grandad probably has 48 hours left to live”.
**silence on my end of the line**
“Are you alright?” Mum says
“Yes, I’m just computing. There’s a big decision to make”.
A couple of hours later Jarred, Levi, Sean and I were driving to Auckland to stay the night at my parent’s house before the flight to Australia at 7.30am the next morning. There were many tears in the car. Texts from Mum pleading me to stay in New Zealand. Attempts from Levi to convince me to let him go to Australia with Jarred. Sean trying to work out how to do the family polite thing and still go on the trip. Silence from Jarred, who was going to support whatever choice was made. It was a pretty heavy time.
We visited Grandad before getting to Mum and Dad's. He was indeed, on a sharp decline, but he had eaten some food that night.
Having to deal with such a decision doesn't come all that often in my well-off life. It actually felt good to stretch into that part of my brain and wrestle with a very real decision. For some, this would be an easy decision to make - to stay or go. For me, it was something that completely tore me in two. Choosing between my two loves.
My family and keeping those ties strong is important to me. My nana (passed) and grandad had been an integral part of my childhood and life. Our family has been one of wonderful, foundational love, where no dramas have ever occurred. And my grandfather has been training my brother and I on the songs he wanted at his funeral, even giving him a yearly "concert" each Christmas since Nana died three years ago. Missing the funeral was out of the question.
But at the same time...
The event that I was heading to was Burning Seed! My other home and family. Where the Real Me was allowed to be present at all times and where my creative spirit had learned to fly. Jarred and I were running our theme camp for the 6th time so there were 30 people depending on the infrastructure we provide, as well as the art installation Sacred Seed that we have been putting up for 5 years. This year three groups of people had created new artwork for Sacred Seed, and we had 8+ workshops scheduled that weren't by me. THIS HAD NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE! The slow expansion of this mahi (life work) was finally taking flight to well beyond my capabilities and I wanted to be there to celebrate and see it.
Ugh to have to choose between them!
After many conversations, even more tears and a late night, I decided Levi and I would stay in Auckland. Jarred and Sean would continue to do the Seed mission, taking the art of Sacred Seed with them ($200 excess baggage fee even though we had paid for two seats that were not being used). Jarred was determined it was going to happen, even if I wasn’t there.
Dropping Jarred and Sean off at the airport was completely heart wrenching. As Sean said to me, “You are now losing two things… your grandad, and all the hard work you have put into your art”.
It was hard to let it go, to leave it to others to put it up without me. But I knew it was the right decision to make. The next 24 hours are a bit of a blur, but it did involve visiting Grandad and singing his chosen songs, as well as other songs I knew he liked. Grandad was pretty awake that day and was able to have short conversations between napping. He never suffered dementia, so he recognised the everyone in the family right until the end, asking detailed questions like "When did you come down from Whangarei?" to me.
The super gentle side of Levi emerged as he offered his Great Grandad his juice with a straw. I’ve never seen Levi be so gentle before. Grandad seemed to have got his appetite back, and ate three meals that day. I'm pretty sure I went to bed early, emotionally drained and exhausted.
The next day I visited Grandad again, and he seemed much "better". With the amount that he was eating it was pretty clear that he was definitely not going to die in the next 48 hours like the doctor had predicted. Seeing this, and mulling it over in my mind as I visited my sister, I decided I would try and broach the subject of me leaving with Levi on Thursday. I wondered how that was going to go down with my parents.
A Thursday arrival was important to me, because the Welcome To Country ceremony happens on this day. It is a traditional smoking welcome performed by local indigenous people, who are also full participants at Burning Seed. They are First Camp, and The Orphanage, my camp, are neighbours at the quiet end of the paddock. Being there for this ceremony was especially important for me because it was the first Burning Seed after our previous indigenous liaison had died. This wonderful woman had been integral in building up First Camp and their role at Burning Seed and was such a special person in our community. I wanted to be there at Welcome To Country to honour her, and cry with my friends for our loss.
To my surprise, when I rolled up the driveway, Mum and Dad were literally waiting for me in the front doorway and said to me almost in unison,
“We think you should go to Australia”.
“And we think you should go as soon as possible. You can go tomorrow if you like”.
Fortunately it was Saturday and I was still able to contact Jarred before he went into the uncontactable wonderland that is Burning Seed. As Lumi and Sean did happy dances in the background, Jarred and I laid out plans that would enable him to pick me up from the Wagga Wagga airport on Monday, the same day he was dropping off the hired truck we used for all our gear.
On Sunday Levi and I visited Grandad for the last time, and lunch was served while we were there. Again, Levi’s gentle side came out and he was feeding Grandad his whole lunch with such gentleness and joy. That was so special. It was such a beautiful thing to witness and a memory I will hold forever. It was the last memory there was to have.
Monday morning we were at the airport early, as we flew our way to Australia. We made it to Burning Seed having only missed one day of set up (plus all the driving and packing of the truck). All the core infrastructure had been set up, so on Tuesday morning it was all hands on deck to set up Sacred Seed - which we managed to do in one day, including lighting.
As I brought out the things of my Nana’s that are part of the Sacred Seed installation, I thought about how there is literally nothing else in the world I would rather be doing, and nothing better that could transmit the love my grandparents shared with us into the world. Being able to share this love with the Burning Seed community is such a blessing for everyone involved. I’m so happy I was able to be in that space at that time.
The new art was outstanding and our improved street frontage meant that we had a lot more visitors this year, thank you Layla, Lewis, Pille, Toby, Emrys and Will Retry! I can’t get over how amazing your contributions were. The workshops were well attended too, well… all of them aside from the ones that I ran, lol… the universe still keeps me humble 😉 .
It seems the universe blessed me with being able to experience both my families in a deep and beautiful way. The Orphanage theme camp went well. We now have a returning crew dedicated to what our space is about and there are now more offers of art for Sacred Seed next year. And I got to see and feel and cry at the memorial of our friend. Lumi, Jarred and I got to be a three publically. Levi had a ball playing in the forest and with the other kids of Seed.
What a phenomenal time.
It was with great fortune and blessings that I was able to stay in Australia for the week after Seed as planned (instead of being called back to New Zealand for a funeral) so I was able to hang out with Jarred’s daughters as well.
Grandad was still alive when we returned. He died three days after we arrived back on the 9th of October, at the grand old age of 99 and 9 months old.
Thank you to everyone who supported me, counselled me and hugged me during this time. Thank you to T-Slam for working out a way that message could get to me if my mother needed to contact me. Thank you to my family for providing such support and the funds to get to Australia to fulfil my arty dreams. Thank you to Sean and Lumi who took on more responsibility for setting up The Orphanage in my absence. And thank you to Jarred who bravely continued on without me, determined to serve The Orphanage and the Seed community and ensuring that what we had planned came to fruition. It certainly did.
Love you all
Install 1 - Totara Parklands, Whangarei
It was our absolute pleasure to be able to install Sacred Seed twice in one week over the 2019 Easter period. The first install was the full set up of Sacred Seed in its 'Temple Format' on April 14th, in Totara Parklands.
The morning opened with special karakia with Joby Hopa from Pehiaweri Marae, opening and welcoming us into his rohe (area). He walked us around the forest, speaking/chanting in Maori, declaring what would happen in the space and blessing this time to be. This process is the reason why I delayed the date for the Whangarei installation, so it was very humbling to have the morning play out as it ought to. We were all moved by the experience, which aligned our spirits and focussed us on the task at hand.
Set up for this installation was a fantastic achievement. With 8 helpers and 3 hours we transformed the bare forest into a wonderland of coloured fabric, a full temple, women’s art gallery, a workshop area, and a welcome zone for our Temple Fox Guardian. A huge thank you to Daniela, Ayla, Levi, Sean, Glenn, Jarred and LumiFox for making this installation possible.
The event opened and saw about 50 people visit the forest for the day. We were privileged to have Sherita play two acoustic sets as part of the event, which wooed people reminders of letting go of pain and being in alignment with the Earth. Sherita and I marvelled at how aligned our creative work is and hope to work together more in the future.
We also had two reiki healers onsite, Wendy and Shaun, who performed reiki healing on visitors (sorry no photos!). They also set up a crystal grid under a chair an energy boost (see above). Visitors could not believe the amazing feelings it generated in them: “When I sat on here I thought ‘Oh yeah, I won’t feel anything’, but WHOA!” and “I feel like I have enough energy to run a marathon!”
It was wonderful to show people how the Torus Doorway works, and share the opportunity to write a message to elders past on The Grandmother Tree. These tributes will be made into a piece of artwork once enough have been created.
Joby returned at the end of the day to see the artwork, and officially close the space. Within one hour, 5 people took down the space, finishing at nightfall, and we were home before dark. Thank yous to Maureen and Glenn for coming back to pack up!
Thank you so much to all involved in making this day such a success. It’s so important to have these moments to be able to provide a gentle space for regeneration of ourselves. This event was so successful we will definitely look at doing it again.
Install 2 - LUBBLE, a festival at Kauri Mountain
Installation 2 was an opportunity at a small event called LUBBLE – a wee Whangarei-based dance party weekend. This install was completely different and a first for Sacred Seed – setting up pieces hanging from one singular tree. It was a fresh challenge we’ve wanted to do for a while. We decided to set up a walkway around the tree that took people through key pieces of the Sacred Seed art work, the Torus, The Shadows, The Chakras and The Stars.
It was a great adventure doing something different, though it would have benefitted from having a crew person there to teach people about the different pieces, and how to use the doorways. For us though, LUBBLE is a relaxing moment in time, and we were distracted with our own little love bubble. Can’t wait to set up artwork at Lubble in Labour Weekend (Oct 2019)!
Greetings precious friends,
It seems poignant to me, that I had to delay the installation day for Sacred Seed. For now New Zealand finds ourselves amidst a great tragedy.
The purpose of the Sacred Seed installation has always been to create a space where people can begin to open their connection to spirit / universe, and give them grounding into Mother Earth. To plant a seed that will slowly crack and unfurl as they travel on their journey.
The new timing seems fitting with what is surrounding us now. I see my work as an artistic response to a real need in our communities. It is another way to anchor love into our city, just as the other commemorations are. So I'm really looking forward to bringing this artwork to life for Whangarei, and helping people in their own journeys.
The date for Sacred Seed is in three weeks, Sunday 14th April.
I have now talked with the Kaumatua, Joby Hopa from Pehiaweri Marae. It was a wonderful meeting, where we discussed the intention for the space and how we would work together.
I also performed for him the performance/meditation piece I have been working on for the last year or so. It was important for me to do this, as it weaves together the Maori and English, Christian and spiritual karakia. Joby had just come back from the Kapa Haka National competitions at midnight the previous night and was pretty exhausted, but after the meditation he said he felt connected, grounded and refreshed. Excellent!
I received Joby’s blessing to go ahead with what I have planned. He will be there to bless and open the space at 8am, and come to close it at 5pm. The piece will be set up between 8.30am-12pm, and opened to the public from 12-5pm.
A CALL OUT
If you are an artist and would like to be part of an event that is a Community Art Response aimed at anchoring love into our communities, I encourage you to get in contact with me via firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be amazing to see other artists use this event to share some of their art which also anchors love.
If you would like to run something for the activity program, our theme is “Ways of Being” – and we are looking for workshops and activities that offer different “ways of being” such as meditation, singing and reiki energy sharing. If you have activities to gift, please let me know via email@example.com
Looking forward to seeing you all soon!
Attention friends! The date for the Sacred Seed art installation is changing. There will no longer be an event on Sunday 24th February.
The new date is Sunday 14th April. It’s a little riskier in terms of weather, but the change is important, and this blog will share why “doing it right” is the most important thing to me.
It turns out that even though I’m a Pakeha (non-Maori) who has been well exposed to Maori tikanga (protocol), I can still do things wrong. With the nature of my art being a nature temple that hangs in a forest, I knew the proper thing to do was to contact the local marae (traditional gathering place with community buildings). It is important for me to talk to them about this work so they could be aware of what was going on in their rohe (area) and give it their blessing.
That phone call should have been done weeks ago. Instead I avoided this crucial call because I procrastinated and chose to sit with the feeling of impending doom for weeks.
Last Monday, I finally made the call to the local kaumatua (elder) who was very happy to talk to me and find out what I was up to. He shared with me the information that I needed to know. He would be in Wellington for the National Kapa Haka competition on my chosen weekend and was unavailable.
I’m happy to share my foolishness with my friends, because I know we can learn from this together. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in community roles where I KNOW the correct tikanga, had a Maori cultural advisor and know some of the key Maori leaders in the city. And yet with all that experience and knowledge I still hesitated and delayed following the processes I know are important.
The ritual of opening a space and blessing its mahi (work) is a very normal part of the culture here in Whangarei. Given the deeper nature of my work I need to honour the people of the land and work with the local Maori hapu (family) group.
By not telling them it could be considered offensive. This is not what I want to achieve. Because I’ve worked with this marae in the past it would just be WEIRD that I didn’t talk to them about it.
I know I can do better. The right thing is to talk with them to work out the best course of action for the piece. Hence the date change.
While I kick myself for not talking to them first, I am grateful for this opportunity to share my learnings. It’s so important to acknowledge the indigenous culture on the land that we are inhabiting. Where possible, we need to learn, to pay attention to the protocols and apply them.
These are not burdensome things to do. It does require more lead time, but these kinds of things enrich our souls and our lives. I’m looking forward to meeting with the kaumatua and sharing with them the vision of Sacred Seed, and the performances that feature in it. Then I can put up the installation with greater support and confidence, breaking the unhealthy loops that have been holding me back. And I’m hopeful that a working relationship can be developed with the marae to create together artwork with fabric which can hang in natural spaces.
So thanks for reading, and SAVE-THE-DATE for Sunday 14th April! I’m looking forward to seeing you in the magic that is Totara Parklands forest on Wairau Drive, Tikipunga.
I am working towards installing Sacred Seed in Whangarei on Sunday 24th February 2019. I already have Council permission!
I am hoping to collaborate with some wise friends to help produce workshops to be held in the space in the afternoon.
A workshop schedule will be released on 10th February. If you are interested in collaborating on this installation with me, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org then.
On a whim I applied to be a featured artist at AUM New Year's Festival in South Head, Auckland 2018. I had heard great things about this festival from many friends who had been to previous ones. Being an artist means I was granted 3 tickets. Thanks to AUM organisers and your generosity! And a huge thanks to my crew Lumiel and Captain Jayman. We spent the cost of two tickets to buy new things the installation needed, (like solar panels and rope. Can never have enough rope!)
AUM presented an excellent challenge as our preferred forest setting wasn't available. Instead we had about ten trees in a circle to work with as an inner area, set in a lovely grassy crater near the Main Stage, Rather than using the nature temple layout, we worked to use the same artwork to create a general hang out spot and regeneration zone. This is great example about how my art changes according to the environment it's set up in.
We changed the focus of the space by hanging the more spiritual elements were on the outer side of the installation. This was so that participants could interact with them if they wanted to, or ignore them if they didn't. The inner area was more neutral, and wonder provoking, decorated with the Constellations and Shadows. The inner area also featured The Grandmother Tree, and had a "grandchild" shrub next to it (gosh that was cute! And I even got a message from someone saying how much they loved that specific aspect). There were mats on the floor for sitting on, and it was lit up at night time.
It was pretty amazing, walking into the space at night time and listening to the people who were leaving, overhearing people say "wow, I feel so grounded now" and "I feel much better, I think I'll go back to the dancefloor". This was very satisfying, because this is what the self-managing design intended... to be a safe place of revitalisation and give people on New Years Eve the boost they needed to continue with the night. And just to clarify, we didn't need to stay in the space and work with people. The art work holds the peaceful energy on its own. We visited through out the night, but also could be found on the dance floors.
This AUM layout allows for a more comfortable space for workshops. I'm pretty excited about this, as I've been wanting to transition to something like this for a while, with the aim to tour with it eventually. It was great to have the Trees at AUM to give me the challenge of creating this new space. And it still all fits into 3 suitcases, (lighting included).
It is with great excitement we share the latest iteration of Sacred Seed, set up at Burning Seed 2018 - the Australian NSW Regional Burn. This was the best set up yet, with the additions of a yoga workshop area and an intimate conversations tent. We were amazed to see 50+ people attend the yoga sessions! And blessed to have some very special workshops and meditations during the event.
This walk-through shows the different doorways used to bring people into the space (Shadow Gallery, Torus, 10 Principle bells, and net curtains) and the different spaces created (yoga workshop, intimate conversations tent, and inner temple and alter).
A huge thanks to Erin, Justin, Meg, Benji, Jess, Jarred, Oli, Richard and Stephen who helped set the space up in just four hours. Go Orphacorn power!
Here is a secret youtube link to a video made of me, for the Burner Leadership Summit for Australia and New Zealand. I couldn't go this year, so this video was made, talking about creating sacred spaces at Burns. (Here's a video of the Temple at YOUtopia, mentioned in the film).
I've been reading a fantastic book - The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, by Cynthia Bourgeault.
In it, the author marries together, a metaphysical law called the Law of Three with the Holy Trinity.
The Law of Three teaches us to move beyond the binary (like the battle between good and evil) and incorporates a third force which stimulates growth beyond. So rather than a tennis match between opposing forces that continues without changing, the Law of Three introduces something that creates a movement into an evolving spiral.
I haven't finished the book yet, but Cynthia is basically saying that the Law of Three is an important element that has been left out of Christianity... That the story of the battle between good and evil is false, and that Christianity is an evolutionary spiral that comes out of the movement around the elements of the Holy Trinity. It's pretty thought provoking stuff. I'd love to know what you think. You can get a taster here... The book is based off an article that Cynthia wrote.
Don't freak out I talk about Christianity, because my understanding of it goes well beyond what people are generally taught through Church and media! Some of my fans know that I came into the spiritual life via Christianity, and while my journey has taken me out of the traditional Church realm for a while, I have never stopped praying, singing, and deepening my relationship with Spirit through the intimate face of God, taught through Christianity. My beliefs about Spirit have been shaped by Integral Theory/Spirituality - by Ken Wilbur, which finds a way to integrate the world religions in a way that is complementary. Rev Paul Smith crystallised these ideas, acknowledging the Three Faces as "Infinite", "Intimate" and "Inner-most". (I'll write more about that in another post).
Much love and Aroha
We are very excited to share this video of The Sacred Journey, the art installation that Hannah was invited to help design for YOUtopia - the San Diego Regional Burn.
All the fabric elements in this art work were made by Hannah in Australia and taken to hang on the structure built by The Journey crew (which had previously been to Burning Man).
A huge thanks to Rand, who filmed this with his drone, finally giving us the ability to experience this art work in the way it was intended... as an immersive walk through experience.
Debriefing about being part of The Sacred Journey at YOUtopia will be written about in three parts, because there is a lot to write about!
Part 1 – Temple Building Synergies
Part 2 – Rituals and Ceremonies
Part 3 – Plans for the Future
Part 1 – Temple Building Synergies
From the moment I arrived in San Diego and integrated with the crew I felt loved, recognised and respected for the work I do in creating sacred spaces. The Journey crew were so welcoming and hard working. I’m so proud to count them all as friends. What an amazing crew to have landed into!
When we arrived onsite we (my assistant/aka husband /aka chief bag carrier/ aka Captain Jayman and I) jumped straight into setting up The Sacred Journey. For two more days, the team worked at creating the structure, sound and lighting components, while I did final fabric prep and then! I could hang my work upon theirs. MELD TIME.
It was a nerve-wracking time, given I had not touched the structure while I was in make-mode. Since I’ve not yet learned how to do digital modelling, I only had my imagination to envision how my work would blend with The Journey. The curvature of the structure meant that either side of the tunnel required different tactics, and as I suspected, some of my work did not fit the structure well. BUT most of it did! And it looked great.
Dan (Lead Designer) managed to match the lighting design with descriptions of my concepts for each of the five sections within the Sacred Journey tunnel. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief when the lights were turned on for the first time, and everything looked good.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a collaborated artwork come together so well.
Best of all, the feelings that the artwork evoked in people were the exact feelings we were aiming for. This for me, is the real success. A piece of artwork can be as pretty or as well-made as you like, but if it doesn’t move the viewer into a state of reflection then it will just be pretty and well-made. A Temple has got to do more, and what is fascinating is how that shift can be made, from the ordinary to the sacred, by adding intention and a few physical materials that point people into the realm of connecting to something deeper.
The Sacred Journey had to have some last minute adjustments made, and we reduced the sections from 6 to 5.
The sections were divided as follows:
Node 1: Welcome area and Ten Principles. Gateway 1 - Soft curtain.
Node 2: The Universe - constellations made with doilies. Gateway 2 - A giant vagina.
Node 3: The Earth - A tree, dragonflies, bees, butterfly, river. Gateway 3 - The Charka Reflection.
Node 4: The Shadow - six paintings of different aspects of the human experience. Gateway 4 - Your own shadow.
Node 5: The Torus - White woven walls of energy and portal. Gateway 5 - The Torus Reflection.
People who visited the Temple and came inside the central area were invited to write on a piece of fabric, their hopes, prayers, and letting go things, and then tie the material to the Obelisk or the roof structure. It was overwhelming, packing it all away and seeing how many ties had been attached to the material. Well over 1000 for sure. Tear jerking moment. These ties, and the Obelisk will be taken to Burning Man 2018 and burned.
I came home feeling so blessed and inspired about all the gifts that the YOUtopia experience gave me and I'm over flowing with ideas of gifts back. And I'll write more about those in Part 2 and 3.
Lots of Love
(All the fabric artwork in the images below has been made and designed by me. I had help with the white sheets by my four step/children, Sophia, Ella, Maddie and Levi; the insects by Camille; and the shadow section by Rachelle, who also chose the shadow images. Didn't she do a great job!)