Port Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand, March 2019 – June 2021
The journey – extracted from the book:
Clay is my 3D paintbrush, aligning its qualities and characteristics recognizable in ourselves: durable, malleable, and fragile.
An Offering began on 16th March 2019, one day after the mass shootings on Friday 15th March at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch. It is my response – born from disbelief, pain and sadness and a way of excising my emotions, and to reach out to those who suffered.
Starting with one little girl carrying flowers and the first line of the poem that accompanies the work, I felt compelled to continue. It evolved from there. It was an emotional four month journey, and as I carved sometimes shedding tears for the fallen and tears for their families – tears for the tragic loss of life, the terror and the pain that ripped through the Muslim community – and beyond.
As with so many I was inspired by the moving and comforting words and the grace of Imam Gamal Fouda. Proud to witness Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s raw compassion and support, and the outpouring of emotion from us all. The sea of flowers and heartfelt messages linked grief and love towards each other – a tangible expression uniting people together.
Over four months the creative process triggered reflections on other humanitarian and social justice issues, and my emotions see-sawed from despair to hope which influenced the work. Revisiting and adding words to the message, kept me anchored.
Although the work was initially a tribute to the 51 fallen, I wanted it to be a message of hope for a wider audience – those who face oppression and prejudice, the displaced and the marginalised in society. The focus became on how this tragedy stirred apathy, stimulated dormant sensitivity and awakened greater tolerance towards others.
The work rests on the courageous shoulders and vision by many brave individuals whose profound voices have risen above the noise (and sometimes weapons) bringing hope and peace in places of conflict. This kept my motivation alive, and I found much comfort from their many wise insights.
Children are our future, born uncoloured by prejudice, they are our hope for the future, and although we are created in various hues, here the 51 figures are formed from humble terracotta clay. This is a metaphor – a reminder we are created the same and share this planet with each other – a global family, members of immeasurable communities of settlers, all striving to live and flourish.
White flowers and children are portrayed as ‘torches of tolerance to shine light in the dark’. They symbolise purity and peace, fragility, beauty and mortality, and homage to nature and the environment that mankind shares with flora and fauna.
An Offering is my expression of compassion to honour those who have suffered through conflict in ideology and oppression; a tribute to those who contribute in a myriad of ways to help and comfort those in pain and sadness, and, finally a message of hope through the eyes of children to teach us lessons in tolerance, respect and humility.
“Peace be upon you” – “As-salamu alykum” (Islam)
“Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36 the Bible)
A year on from the massacre, another wave of heartbreak hit New Zealand’s shores – COVID 19 a silent invisible threat with the potential to claim lives, changed our day to day life, stretched medical services and severing travel and physical connections with others overseas. The pain of isolation, the fear of unknown consequences from the disease exposed our vulnerability but it also created an awareness of our neighbours , others in need and an appreciation for those who served in roles often under the radar. Essential workers: those employed in supermarkets and public transport, those in the public service and emergency services. The dedicated and vulnerable medical personal who risked their own (and their family’s ) lives with An Offering of service and protection to others.
From Angela Paykel- ‘ caretaker’ of An Offering.
As a visitor in December 2019 to “Te Uru” Gallery in Titirangi I was overwhelmed and very emotional by the impact the works figures had on me. Then and there I phoned an Art Curator friend and shared the work with her. I let her know how strongly I felt about purchasing the work with the intention of gifting it to the people of Christchurch for a public space.
The Christchurch Hospital seemed the most perfect site as it and its people had played an incredible role beyond their normal experiences in the caring of the injured at the time of the massacre.
Now Covid has joined our world and these same wonderfully dedicated people are there again to keep as safe.
More offerings by Robin Ronga…
This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands
First of a suite of 3 works created during Covid19 lockdown. Influenced by the constant messages and instructions as a means to keep us safe were like the constant rhythm in a nursery rhyme, and the rote method used often in the early stages of learning. It worked, we are safe (nearly).
Lean on Me
Inspired by Bill Withers song: Lean on Me the compassionate anthem that spanned and inspired nations. His lyrics gave comfort and lifted spirits; it united people of all race and creed and helped those in pain and suffering from the effect of Covid-19. This 2nd work is a metaphor for compassion, resilience and protecting the vulnerable, in these extra-ordinary times.
For those who needed to be in quarantine, some could only gather up their most essential items. This 3rd work is from a child’s perspective – her beloved pet is the most important.
This act of choosing what matters most, identifies what we treasure in our lives: its relationships and love that become our first choice.
Exhibition: Kotahitanga – United through Creativity
An initiative by Creative Waikato as a means to strengthen the unity of communities – responding to reports of online bullying and racism that had escalated as the impacts of COVID-19 were being felt.
A commission titled: Us
A suite of seven school aged children – carrying either a ball/book/schoolbag
The number seven is considered the number of completeness and perfection, in both physical and spiritual realms.
The balls are a metaphor for the world they hold in their hands – an inherent potential seed to thrive. It’s a symbol to bounce their ideas, ideals and dreams…. to share, to be fair, and brave, and to play the game of life with respect and in harmony with others: their global family.
Books reference education – it’s the key to unlock to dispel ignorance and prejudice. Knowledge and attitude are tools they learn to help cope with life’s challenge, to appreciate and celebrate differences, and to help each realize their potential.
Their schoolbags ‘carry’ love and support from whanau , protection from ‘elements’ and ‘nourishment’: essential ‘items’ with their name on so they can grow up steadfast and flourish.
These 7 children are also represented as a team – to epitomize values that are universal and fundamental in life/sport: integrity, dedication, and resilience, to believe in themselves and proud of their heritage. Though each retain their unique culture and individuality, their uniform highlights ‘sameness’ and recognizes the significance of unity and support, and the thrill of lifting each other up – achieving… together: Kotahitanga.
And the Card Read….
Height – tallest 42cm
Media – Mixed clay
Based on heartfelt words expressed in cards and texts… and those that that accompany flowers, inspired this suite.
COVID made us deeply aware of our vulnerability and isolation – and the need to reach out with love and gratitude to those we couldn’t be with.
From left to right subtitled with the added message:
(May the miracle and beauty of nature wrapped in my love, bring you much joy as you celebrate.)
SO PROUD OF YOU…. …
(May the miracle and beauty of nature wrapped in my love, bring you much well deserved joy.)
THANK YOU …
(May the miracle and beauty of nature wrapped in my love, express my gratitude for your caring and sharing. )
Multi-media artist, Robin Ranga (BVA) considers herself an observer, striving to capture humanitarian responses which resonate and relate to universal compassion and concerns. From this perspective she pays homage to others, to the environment and to raise an awareness that the prospect of possibilities, probabilities and potential resides within each person’s landscape. Her portrayed compositions in Bronze/Paint/Clay become conversations, raising the question she also asks herself: “What matters most?” Her works have won various prestigious awards and national recognition including multiple People’s Choice Awards. Two of her most recent works were selected as Finalists in the inaugural Richard T Nelson Awards for Sculpture.