Te Tumu

A significant contemporary sculpture by New Zealand artist Brett Graham, honoring War Artist Horace Moore-Jones, is just part of the generous and inspired art patronage gift that was unveiled yesterday morning at HBHS.

One of the granddaughters of World War 1 artist Horace Moore-Jones wants to keep her grandfather’s artistic spirit alive and inspire future generations. Moore Jones was the inaugural art teacher at Hamilton High School ( now HBHS) from 1918 to 1922.

The incredibly generous gift, donated by Ange Paykel, includes a sculpture for HGHS and HBHS, an art travel scholarship, and an artist-in-residence fund to be shared by the brother and sister schools.

On Tuesday 21 November 2017, HBHS unveiled the commissioned work by celebrated artist Brett Graham. This follows a commission in 2016 for HGHS by Virginia Kin.

“I wanted to give something that would not only remember and celebrate the life of my Grandfather, but that would inspire young people to embrace art and develop a lifelong passion for the visual arts, receiving all the riches that come from leading a creative life.” said Ange Paykel of her gifts to our schools.

Brett Graham’s work “Te Tumu” is layered with meaning, literally and figuratively. Te Tumu: a foundation, a mooring, chief of the highest rank, encapsulates the symbiotic relationship of school and student, and the role that they play in the wider world. Together and because of each other they are strong.

In Maori, Te Tumu is literally a stump or foundation, and is often used to describe a strong leader, the ‘pillar’ of the community. Akin to the expression “he toka tu moana”, “a rock standing in the ocean” this work is placed prominently as an interpretation of strong leadership.

Carved from basalt volcanic rock, Te Tumu has been made in response to the school motto, Sapiens Fortunam Fingit Sibi: “A Wise Man Carves His Own Fortune” and symbolises unshakeable leadership, and the pursuit of knowledge.  Its extrusions represent the poutama pattern found in tukutuku of man striving ever upwards in an ascent to the heavens as exemplified in the Maori story of Tawhaki. When you stand beside Te Tumu and as you run a hand over the smoothness of the rock, you can feel the heat radiating from its surface. It is as if it is alive. There’s something reassuring about that. Basalt, of course, is no stranger to heat. Forged in the bowels of the earth there is a timeless, primal, element to the material. It is enduring.

In addressing the ceremony, Mr Graham, an internationally renowned artist with Tainui affiliations, paid tribute to our Deputy Headmaster Mr Graham Robinson, who tragically passed away on Saturday 18 November, as being the embodiment of "Te Tumu" - the rock at the heart of this school and the foundation upon which it has stood for so long.  It is a precious, enduring gift and the perfect tribute.

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