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Wild lily (Riri o te ō)



Rena Mariri

25 May 1969 –

No image
  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    hand-sewn tivaevae tātaura, cotton
    256.5 x 273.2 cm
    Rudy Komon Memorial Fund 2022
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Rena Mariri
    Artist information
    Rena Mariri

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Tivaevae, as they are known in the Cook Islands, or tifaifai, as they are known in Tahiti, are the vital women’s textile tradition practised throughout eastern Polynesia. Meaning ‘to patch’, tivaevae draw from both western and Polynesian sources. Though missionaries brought western quilt-making and modern fabrics to the Pacific, tivaevae have a direct connection to much older bark cloth traditions. Gifts of love, they are made for important rites of passage, from boys' haircutting celebrations to weddings and funerals.

    There are four main types of Cook Island tivaevae. Tivaevae manu are appliqué quilts usually made of only two colours, boldly cut freehand, ‘snowflake’ style, from fabric folded into quarters or eighths. Tivaevae tātaura, like this one, start as appliqué then are embroidered in variegated threads – the brighter and more colourful the better.

    Tivaevae motifs are most often the tropical and introduced flowers and plants of the Cook Islands, like gardenia, hibiscus, orchids and chrysanthemums and, as here, lilies. What is important is that the artist chooses a favourite bloom from which to make their own original design, to tell their story.

    Tivaevae are traditionally made of vividly hued casement cloth or cotton broadcloth, with many women in Sydney still sourcing their fabrics from Auckland or the Cook Islands.

    Born in the Cook Islands, Rena Mariri is today a member of the Sydney Cook Islands community. She continues to actively practice the craft she learnt from her late mother when, as a child she practiced on her mother’s unfinished tivaevae. Mariri made this tivaevae (as one of several) for her daughter’s 21st birthday in 2020. It took her around 3 months to sew, working mainly at night until the early hours of the morning.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Matisse Alive, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 11 Oct 2021–03 Apr 2022