Aroha Gossage’s paintings seek to connect with tupuna and the past. Her landscapes are located in Pakiri and Hauturu (Little Barrier), physically, spiritually and conceptually. Much of the conceptual foundation of her art Gossage attributes to her mother, and to a childhood spent learning how to live with and from the land – collecting and propagating native seeds, diving for kina and paua, fishing in the river. ‘She gifted me with a childhood living closely connected to our environment in Pakiri,’ Gossage says.
Gossage incorporates kokowai (earth) into several of the works in this exhibition. She seeks kokowaiout because of its ‘gentle purity’ in handling as well as its ‘unspoken power’ visually. ‘These rich earth colours you can’t buy in a tube‘. Gossage collects the medium herself, allowing her time on the land, thinking and exploring. ‘I know where to go to get rich reds, up by the dam. There are pure whites and blues if you dig a metre down in a special spot under our bridge. The ochres are on the corner by the gravel road up by my auntie’s, and I find lovely greys at our waterfall‘.
The sense of light in much of her work results from manoeuvring oil pigment on board, to create what she calls ‘soft hazy gradients’. When the paint dries there are unprecedented beautiful effects that happen between the solvent and the pigment that give a likeness of atmosphere within her compositions. The sanding between each coat – to create a fine surface with a silky finish – can also achieve effects like the stippled sky as seen in Haumaringi.