James main work at present is focused on Tāmoko
James Webster is of Maori and European descent and is well known as a talented Maori arts practitioner, working with many mediums including wood, bone and stone (sculpting and carving) as well as paint, fibre and metal (mixed media) and Tāmoko (body adornment / tribal tattoo).
Residing in Aotearoa / New Zealand Jame's tribal affiliations are Tainui, Te Arawa and Pakeha.
James is based in Coromandel Town, Coromandel and is the owner/operator of the Tahaa, Tāmoko Studio and Māori Arts.
James has been working in the arts industry for over 20 years as a freelance multi-disciplined artist specialising in sculpture and working in the fields of carving (bone, stone and wood), painting and other mixed-media creations. James also works as a Tāmoko (Māori tattoo) artist and is a maker and player of Taonga Pūoro (Māori musical instruments)
James acquired a Studio Certificate from Toihoukura, Te Tairawhiti Polytechnic, Gisborne. 1998
James has a Bachelor of Arts, Te Maunga Kura Toi, (with excellence) in Whakairo Rākau (Maori Wood carving) from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, under the tutelage of Dr Paakaariki Harrison and Professor Kereti Rautangata.
One of Websters passions is the making and playing of Taonga Pūoro (singing treasures / Māori Musical Instruments). Taonga Pūoro, like the Māori language, reflects the sounds and rythms of nature and the environment. One of the traditional uses of taonga pūoro was in the art of healing through music. These traditional instruments have whakapapa (genealogy) and pūrakau (origin stories).
Over the past 30 years there has been a revival of the craft of Taonga Puoro. Webster is a member of the group Haumanu which is dedicated to the revival - teaching and sharing of these taonga through instrument making and musical and artistic performances.
Webster has performed in concerts as well as conferences and tutored at Wānanga (places of learning) in Aotearoa and abroad. He was a member of the Aotearoa delegation at the 9th/10th/11th Pacific Arts Festivals 2004/2008/2012.
James is a member of a Taonga Puoro group called "Reo" whose genre of music is a mixture of Taonga Pūoro, chanting and Digital Audio Textiles. Reo is voice - the human voice, the voices of our instruments, the voice of the natural world. In the traditional worldview the entire natural world is a 'voice', a voice, a music, a reo. Check out the Orotokare website.
'Kei a te Pa te timatanga o te waiatatanga mai a te Atua. Ko te Ao, ko te Ao-marama, ko te Ao-turoa.'
'It was in the night that the Gods sang the world into existence.'
Matiaha Tiramorehu 1849
One the the greatest passions of the last 20 years of 'James' artistic career has been the making and playing of Taonga Puoro (Maori musical instruments). Taonga Puoro, like Te Reo Maori, reflects the natural sounds and rythms of nature and the environment. The instruments have whakapapa (genealogies) and purakau (origin stories) pertaining to the many families of instruments and the individual varieties of instruments associated with Taonga Puoro.
Historically, and in varying degrees in modern times, Taonga Pūoro was used in the arts of healing and cultural ceremony. Due to historical events there was a decline in the use and cultural practice of the instrument traditions within Māori culture and with the knowledge base connected to it. There has been a revival of this craft over the last 30 years, led by the late Hirini Melbourne, Richard Nunns, Brian Flintoff and Ranginui Keefe to name a few. A group named Haumanu has grown from these initiatives. The group (of which James is a part) is deidcated to the revival, teaching, and sharing of these taonga (treasures).
This 7 part documentary series examines the many whanau (family) groupings that make up the sounds of Taonga Pūoro. Told from the perspective of selected experts throughout the motu, we take the audience on a practical rhythmic journey with knowledgeable people into the ancient sounds and instruments of Taonga Pūoro. With this series we endeavour to take Taonga Pūoro out of the glass museum cases and into the lives and homes of our audience. This series will enhance and support the revival through a bautifully shot, sound designed informative programe.
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