2022 – 2023
First shown in the Open Window at Govett-Brewster Gallery, as part of the exhibition Te Au: Liquid Constituencies, whatuwai consists of a warp-weighted loom made from driftwood gathered along the Taranaki coastline, and weights holding tension from uku (clay) and stones gathered from around Taranaki’s waterways. An in-process weaving hangs on the loom. Incorporating both Pākehā and Māori techniques – plain-weave, whatu, and māwhitiwhiti – the weaving is "composed of fibres dyed using pigments from plants associated with rongoā and other medicinal plant methods, gathered around rivers the artist holds whakapapa and whānau relations to"—among them, Hangaatahua, Herekawe, Oākura and Tongapōrutu.
Also included in the installation is a series of gathering-tools and materials — baskets, woven from a mixture of harakeke, tī kouka, willow and bramble "from around the artist’s family home in Tongapōrutu, acting as vessels to hold gathered material. Walker describes this material research process as a form of “counter-mapping,” a way of exploring changing, and surprising, connections between plants, places and people." A series of short poetic texts, added to at different intervals of the moon. over the course of the exhibition, accompanied the work and wider exhibiition booklet. Changing and developing throughout the exhibition’s season, the texts were intended to speak to the shifting nature of the material in the installation—as it absorbs light, heat and moisture—and to the always unfolding nature of conversational learning across generations.
First shown as part of Te Au: Liquid Constituencies, Govett-Brewster Gallery, 2022