Episode 13. Interview with Bethany Edmunds 'Miss b.Me'

Miss b.Me  Photo Credit: NativeLight Media Photography 

Miss b.Me  Photo Credit: NativeLight Media Photography 

I feel so proud to be able to share the work and world of multidisciplinary Māori artist Bethany Matai Edmunds (Miss bMe). Through the scratchy channels of our cyberspace Skype interview, all the way from her home in Aotearoa (New Zealand), Edmunds' creative determination radiates clearly and straight to the heart. Edmunds reminds us that it is the larger circles we are creating today that will sustain our cultures and create new opportunities for growth and evolution of indigenous ways. By continuing to be innovative we will retain the strength of our ancestors and 'never forget'

"As a descendant of the far north living in the city, it’s the taura here of my whakapapa that connects me to my cultural identity and the land that my tupuna are from. I often feel like a manu aute, with my wings spread and my eyes wide open, riding wind currents, and soaking up sights and smells, acknowledging influences and celebrating and creating connections and reference points in this multi-cultural global world we live in, asking myself what does it mean to be urban indigenous? For so many of us whose whakapapa Māori is diluted our connections to the north are dislocated, how do we achieve the success that our grandparent’s generation strove for when they moved to the city? Reclaiming knowledge and sustainable practices and at the same time embracing our Māori identity to innovate, interpret and be proud of the influences and materials available in our immediate environment." - Bethany Matai Edmunds BAA, MA (Ngati Kuri, Pohotiare) 

Here is the conversation with Bethany Matai Edmunds:

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Miss bMe (aka Bethany Matai Edmunds) performing with her band Kinaki on the Aotearoa stage at Pasifika Festival, March 2014

Miss bMe (aka Bethany Matai Edmunds) performing with her band Kinaki on the Aotearoa stage at Pasifika Festival, March 2014

More about the artist:

Bethany Matai Edmunds a.k.a Miss b.Me is a weaver, artist, fiber sculptor and Hip Hop lyricist. Edmunds visual work is grounded in traditional Maori weaving which she conceptually translates using traditional materials and fibers, combined with contemporary denim and mixed media, which further expresses her experiences of being a culture bearer of 'pART mAOri' descent. Lyrically, Edmunds also called Miss b.Me, explores similar concepts which she poetically expresses through cultural references and feminine flows, combining stories inspired by her Maori heritage and her unique worldview of life as an artist, poet and MC. Edmunds has a strong focus on the enhancement of taitamarikiyoung people, through the use of the arts, and ensuring that nga taonga tuku ihothe skills passed down from our ancestors, are retained for future generations.

Learn more about Miss b.Me and her band Kinaki HERE

'In the Hood' Woven out of Kuta a lake reed which is a traditional weaving material used to make rain capes. This piece is about retaining cultural identity while operating in an urban reality. Weaving by Bethany Edmunds, January 2014

'In the Hood' Woven out of Kuta a lake reed which is a traditional weaving material used to make rain capes. This piece is about retaining cultural identity while operating in an urban reality. Weaving by Bethany Edmunds, January 2014

'Raninikura' Kuta and Pingao (sedge grass that grows in the sand dunes) This garment is a woven personification of Raninikura the daughter of our famous tupuna Tohe, and references the transient tribal connections of Te Hiku o te Ika (the Tail of the fish of Maui/ the far north). The materials are sourced from Muriwhenua (another name for the far north), and the golden colour palette of Kuta and Pingao suggests the glistening image of Raninikura that Tohe held in his memories. Weaving by Bethany Edmunds.

'Raninikura' Kuta and Pingao (sedge grass that grows in the sand dunes) This garment is a woven personification of Raninikura the daughter of our famous tupuna Tohe, and references the transient tribal connections of Te Hiku o te Ika (the Tail of the fish of Maui/ the far north). The materials are sourced from Muriwhenua (another name for the far north), and the golden colour palette of Kuta and Pingao suggests the glistening image of Raninikura that Tohe held in his memories. Weaving by Bethany Edmunds.