Bernie connects with the Whenua with her large colourful works. You see the bright blues and greens of the sea and sky, the golds and browns of the earth and the glorious greens of the land.
Bernie was born in South Auckland on a dairy farm, one of nine siblings. Growing up on the farm taught her huge respect for the land, the bush, the rivers and sea. These early experiences led her to a landscape gardening career. She lived living in England working in landscaping before returning to New Zealand in 2002. A physical injury at 50 necessitated a change of direction and subsequent enrolment into Te Wananga o Aoteroa.
‘What followed was four wonderful years of learning the art of raranga (flax weaving).’
The influence of raranga tutor Bibbins Tangitu is clear. Bibbins was a master of Porohita and Kete. While doing her Maunga Kura Toi -Bachelor of Maori Art, she was guided by the skilful weaver Rawhinnia Gray.
Bernie won the Harcourts Art Challenge in January 2020, and the Wearable Art Aoteroa section in Coromandel in 2014. In 2019 she was involved in the Star Waka installation for the Tuia Celebrations in Whitianga.
‘As a raranga artist, harakeke is the medium I use for the majority of my work. Its versatility, ease of use and the connection it provides to our Whenua, makes it a pleasure to work with, both in a physical and spiritual sense. The environment surrounding me in Whangamata; the bush, sea, beach and farmland and their colours, textures, sounds and smells provide inspiration for my work. I continue to be challenged to reflect what I see and feel around me and express this in the work I produce.’