ira wahine 1

Making the cards

Ma te wa.

When it is time.


The Kete Mārama had been sitting out on the edge of my awareness for some time. I knew that I had been given the kaupapa (mission) some years before, when my matua (teacher), Te Hata Ohlson, had insisted that the old teachings must not be allowed to die with the old people as they passed. He had issued the challenge but I really had no idea where to begin at that time.

My own work as an artist was taking me further and further into an expressionist realm, and I found myself doing more and more compositing work, using PhotoShop to combine multiple images to explore my own journey and understanding.

One day a friend looked at a piece and commented that it resembled a fractal.

I really had no idea what a fractal was, so I googled it, and, as artists do, did some research.

A fractal is a repeating pattern in Nature and, once you become aware of it, they are everywhere .The sunflower photograph at right is an example of a natural fractal.

Not only that, but fractals are based upon mathematics, and mathematics is the language of the Universe. It came to me that if it was all about mathematics, then perhaps someone might have written an application (programme) for creating fractals.

15 minutes later, as things do when the time is right, I had found the answer appeared.

And the journey began.

In the beginning there were 3.

Then the 3 became 12.

Then the 12 became 18.

Then in April, 2014, after a hikoi wairua (journey)to Whanganui, the 18 became 24.

At that point I thought I was finished, that the story had been told.

The quiet inner voice that I have come to respect and trust, coughed and informed me that that was not the case, that there were more to appear.

In early 2015, there were 78. The concentric rings of Te Kete Marama have completed.

For now.

They still lacked a name. They were simply “The Cards”.

Then one morning, in November 2015, the answer was given to me.

They are to be known as Te Kete O Te Ao Mārama.

The Basket of Enlightenment


Each taonga (treasure) comes in its own way and in its own time. Sometimes the title comes first, and sometimes the image emerges to begin with. And sometimes the kupu (words) begin to move out of the shadows before the other two.

The work begins in the fractal software mentioned above. An image may take several hours, or it may arrive in as little as 15 minutes. Each one is different and, because I do not begin to understand the formulae behind the fractal, I am obliged to work intuitively, to allow and permit. I am more the paintbrush in the Artist’s hands than the artist.

When the taonga signals that it is ready, I will render it. With the whakairo (carving) hewed from te rakau o te mārama (the tree of light), I use PhotoShop to polish and give it its final form.

At that point, it exists in its purest form, as energy, as an idea.

To bring it to earth and ground it in this world, I use InDesign to lay out the cards for sending to the print house. And then you receive them, with my blessing.

Tony Bridge

May, 2017


Kua hua te marama

Something has completed a full cycle.