I am so excited to go and see the John Pule exhibition newly opened at City Gallery Wellington. There was an engaging story about John and the exhibition in last weeks Dom Post ‘Indulgence’ pull out, and it brought back my very personal memories of John and his partner Sofia. The background is rather multi faceted, but I’ll try to capture the snippets. After graduating Architecture School, Justin worked with Tim Nees of New Work Studio. It was an architecture practice, as well as an art Gallery. New Work Studio (the gallery) represented John Pule as an artist, and his partner Sofia Tekela-Smith, a jeweller. Sofia exhibited her pounamu pendants, one of which I fell in love with and Justin, together with my parents, bought it for me. Many years ago Justin was given two large shells by his grandmother. They were mother of pearl. Justin sent the shells to John and Sofia, commissioning a work of their choosing, for me. Late in 1999 I moved to Italy to study architecture at the Penn State Sede di Roma. After the semester ended I returned to Aotearoa, on Christmas Day prior to the new Millennium. Though Justin had given me the taonga earlier, at the first stroke of the new millenium he read to me Johns poem, engraved on the pendant:
YOU ARE THE ONE FRUIT IN MY SOUL
YOU SOMETIMES BLOSSOM IN WINTER
BUT IT IS SPRING WHEN YOU
BEAUTIFY THE HORIZON. THE CLOUDS
This taonga reminds me of John and Sofia, and they in turn remind me of my taonga (I love how Maori has this single, powerful word “taonga” for treasured possession). And it reminds me of Justin, because he gave it to me of course, and the sentimentality and significance of the shells, but also because he conceived of the potential in the shells, realizable by others. He does that in his architecture all of the time, capturing the realizable potential of materials and talent.