• Chantel Matthews

Bridging the gaps

14 January 2021


Pattern is too big

Too much concrete (cement, sand, water) like the white slab

Polystyrene leaves rough edges, not clean lines

Unsure how to fill and empty with water without seeing it.


Like the movement of the water within the pattern in the seat

Like the surrounding sounds of birds singing and how this slab seat sits comfortably within its environment.

Like the shadows when the light hits it.

15 December 2020

The idea was to do a test slab with a few cups down one end and a pattern of some sort down the other to see the potential in both.

I used straight cement with water only, no sand or aggregate ratio.

Learnt a lot in the process. The cement stuck to the objects, I didn't coat the wood parts in dish liquid and the cement leaked over the cups so had to chip the holes out. In the process, there was chipping everywhere.

I do like the potential though and like the idea of a bench seat that fills and empties like the tide going in and out. if I consider using moana from my own tangata whenua and there is a way the water can flow in and out so at one point it is full tide and another it is low tide. The bench seat could act as a body that holds whakapapa via our relationship to water. I also like the concept of the seats function being durational or based on time. ie when it is filled with water it hinders the function of being able to sit on it without getting wet, when it is completely empty and dry the function of sitting is possible (not sure if comfortable) but tolerable.

I visualise 2 bench seats that sit opposite each other with a gap in-between. Maybe symbolising the feminine and masculine elements. The space inbetween the 2 bench seats I think is just as important as the objects as I consider the space it might be in, the shadows in might make depending of the time of day if near a window, tapping into Duchamps 4th dimension concepts. Where the work is activating space relying on other factors to tell the story.

The pattern I see a fracture version of poutama which represents this journey to find healing as wāhine, as woman, as mother, as a body that traverses between worlds. That can bring life and end life by choice.

When I say a fractured version of a poutama, I think of the traditional pattern and I think about my journey in discovering traditions not growing up with it, my version may be different, slightly skewed as the path is different.

The seat itself is a body that holds whakapapa much like the wahine that holds space, that carries, and creates a place for people. The humble seat, a domestic object that is a symbol of home and how does that translate within an art context, a place to sit and observe, to watch, listen, critique, acknowledge, to also hold but in a different context.

bench seats at either side of the

marae ātea. 1. (noun) courtyard, public forum - open area in front of the wharenui where formal welcomes to visitors takes place and issues are debated. The marae ātea is the domain of Tūmatauenga, the atua of war and people, and is thus the appropriate place to raise contentious issue.

6 December 2020

I think I have realised that my cups are not made to be filled with tea but filled with whakapapa which... then has this tension of knowing and not knowing, ie the gap between what is tikanga and what is negotiable based on position, place, space, time, knowledge, systems etc.

Image 1 Marcel Duchamp, Nude


Image 2


illustration. Abstracting Poutama. imagining this as the top of the bench seat, carved out of the concrete. The water enters one side with an opening at the other end that is small enough to allow the seat to be completely filled at one point and to slowly empty itself over time.

Second image - experimenting with alignment of the grid. horizontal distribute right align.

Exploring the potential of making a bench seat and incorporating the cups used from the cuppa tea station, we decided to do a few tests of surfaces that potentially would be un-sittable using leftover ceramics from the lab.

The first test slab was to expose the the ceramic shards, the sharpness etc. This did not work out as planned.

The second slab was made with a 3 degree angle and aesthetically is more in line with what I am looking for.

The next iteration would be trialling the bench top using a mix clay, concrete, sand and sea water, once the slab is set, we would sit in a tray of salt water to see if and how long the slab disintegrates.

Conceptually looking at ideas of Tapu, ie the association with Kai and sitting, the seat being

potentially un-sittable considering objects that hold space but the space is not available, give and take, not being able to sit down, overworked, labour, taken advantage off. How the domestic object dissolves over time. Domestic objects being tapu, sacred and can the object hold others mauri, wairua. The seat as a vessel that holds without physically engagement?

what does it mean to incorporate a ritual like a cup of tea and turn it into an object that dismantles such rituals? No longer a ritual but an object in waiting.

11 November 2020


bench at the front of the meeting house, front row of seats


1. (loan) (noun) chair, stool, seat, bench, pew.

1. (verb) (-ria) to stand, take place, set in place, establish, hold, convene.

1. (verb) (-tia) to fight, engage, oppose.

1. (verb) to be hit, wounded.


The bench seat is another domestic object that holds space. it holds, it carries, it lightens, lifts, lowers the body. The mixing of kai is to think about well-being that is conflicted. Perhaps by ideas of tapu and noa. What is it to not have the tiki? the knowledge? Could it be a message from my tupuna highlighting the struggle without traditional knowledge, without guidance. The ideas that our people are at a time of change, reclaiming space, the tension and the attitudes towards our own and other. How is calm and peace created?

I think it is a combination of two things, good and bad. Acknowledging flaws/bad/loss/trauma and letting go. How do we let it go?

As an artist my responsibility is to push the boundaries of knowledge, of systems... which systems, I don't know. It is not all pretty pictures. To create a seat from cups is to merge two things together. (conflation) to bring together (fuse) confuse or combine (as two readings) into a composite whole. To find a sense of well-being.

My role as a mother, wife, friend, woman, wahine māori is to nurture, bring balance, nourish and provide sustenance (maintain someone or something in life or existence.)