Tell us about you?
Kia ora Koutou,
My name is Bronwyn Waipuka-Callander. I am a New Zealander of Ngati Kahungunu Ki Wairarapa, Rangitane, and Ngati Porou descent. I live in Auckland with my husband Richard and 9 year old son Murphy. I have a small artists studio in Grey Lynn where I create quality Giclee prints.
Art has been a significant part of my life for the past 14 years. Largely self-taught, my experiences have included exhibitions both in Australia and New Zealand. My current work reflects a distinctive Maori cultural style utilising graphic illustration as the base medium. Inspiration has come from my Maori heritage with themes evolving around Mana Wahine (women of substance and strength) with particular emphasis on Papatuanuku (Mother Earth). In Maori tradition, Papatuanuku is considered the womb of life, the whenua (land) which gives birth to all living things and the place, the soil, to which these things return.
I am very fortunate to be doing something I am passionate about which is largely due to the love and support of my husband, Richard. I am also grateful for the ongoing encouragement and praise from Whanau (family), friends and those who continue to be inspired by my work.
How did your love for Art turn into a business?
In 2001 my husband and I moved to Adelaide. This was both a significant and fortunate time for us. I decided to fully focus on what I wanted to do which was to develop my artistic skills. Having no knowledge or experience with any other medium, except pencil on paper, I began experimenting with oils, pastels and acrylics. I eventually produced some large artworks which I exhibited at an established Gallery in North Adelaide. My very first exhibition saw 7 out of 9 paintings sold. Unfortunately, this experience left me with mixed emotions. I’d gathered first hand experience of the impersonal processes that can occur when dealing with a private gallery and this had put a damper on an otherwise awesome experience. Nonetheless, it was a huge learning curve which, thinking back now, did help me grow as an artist.
(I just want to mention at this point that you (Myaka) were one of my first customers back then and I’d like to take the opportunity now to express my aroha (love) and gratitude for being one of those few who were brave enough to actually pay for my work! lol)
Graphic illustration came about when I fell pregnant with my son Murphy in 2005. I decided to stop painting because of the harmful fumes etc. I began to search for another medium that wasn’t as toxic and that suited my very ‘preggy’ condition better. I was drawn to the ease of computer graphics and haven’t really looked back since. Although in terms of impact, colour output and pricing, there really is no comparison with an oil or acrylic painting.
However, the software flexibility, work output and convenience of Giclee digital printing is pretty awesome and well worth the compromises. And because many of my artworks have deep meanings with many layers of symbolisms, being able to output my ideas within hours (as opposed to days or even months) suits my artistic processing perfectly. But who knows, I may go back to painting one day.
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes from my Maori heritage and being a mum.
This is a favourite whakatauki (Maori proverb) which I like to use often –
Ka oho te wairua,
Ka mataara te tinana,
He aroha kit e aroha,
Ka kaa te rama.
When your spirit is awakened,
When your body is alive,
When love is unconditional,
Tell us something people don’t know about you…
Um, I’m a closed book, lol.… I am studying Te Reo Maori at the moment though.
What’s next for B.Waipuka Art Studio?
The main project I am currently working on is a set of Maori Oracle cards called Niu; He Tangata Matauhi (Voices of the Ancestors). These are based on Maori spirituality. It’s a huge project with over 50 unique designs required.
It has involved a lot of research which has made me come to appreciate my Maori heritage even more.
At the moment my work is on long-term display at Kura Gallery Auckland & Wellington, and at the Auckland Museum.
My exhibition experience is also growing each year which I look to continue.
December will see an exhibition held in New York at temporary gallery – Ora Gallery called ‘Mana Wahine’ which I have been invited to submit artwork for.
I recently did a collaboration with well known and established NZ artist Robyn Kahukiwa. The opportunity to work with my childhood idol was a very special experience which I will treasure always. We are looking to do further collaborations in the future.
Even though I put so much aroha (love) and effort into following my dream, in the end, my husband and son are what matter to me the most. I’d sincerely hope to be doing what I’m doing as long as I can, but if I suddenly couldn’t, it really wouldn’t be the end of the world.