Untitled (from 'Lovely hula hands' series) 2002
Sofia Tekela-Smith has replaced the feathers used in the past by Hawaiian lei makers with 80 metres of ribbon in this work. Similarly, the status-conferring Fijian breastplate has been re-worked, and incorporates abstract symbols from Polynesia as well as Scotland. The artist was raised by her grandmother Mue Tekela on the island of Rotuma. She recounts that the bold red and black crosses stitched on to the mother of pearl shell emerged from an early childhood memory of learning how to write 'between the lines'. This adornment series, specifically created for the Gallery, communicates the strength of a distinct Polynesian aesthetic, which draws on influences derived from the artist’s travels and her personal Rotuman, Futunan, Uvean and Scottish heritage.