Taku Kaupapa-Artist Statement

Following the Song of Mother Earth

The wonderful Jesuit priest, the late John O’Donohue, writes, in his remarkable book Beauty: the Invisible Embrace:

“When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface, and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us.”

When it is time, each of us must pass, must move on. Our mind will return to Ranginui, our Sky Father, our body will return to Papatuuaanuku, from whence it came, and wairua (our soul) will journey onwards. What are we then to do with the time between arrival and departure? What is our purpose? And how will we express that purpose?

Forty years ago, I walked out onto the lawn under a full moon and sang a song to my future. I want to be a great photographer, to make beautiful pictures that resonate in people’s hearts. 

And so the journey began, a winding twisting trail through dark forests, primal chasms, alongside flowing streams and onto the dizzy razorridge heights of switchback mountains. For four decades, I have made pictures of that journey, for what does an artist do when he applies his craft to face himself in the mirror of his own soul? 

A true artist is not one who terms himself that and yet measures his value, his worth through the approval of others. 

A true artist is in service to something intrinsic, something internal, to an Awareness which is transcendent.

An artist, a true artist, an artist who is true, is aligned with the flow of the Great River. He Is continually in service using his skills and the technique he has finely honed on the whetstone of life. 

An artist is merely a paintbrush in the hand of IO, the Being beyond Being.


We have more than one pair of eyes with which to see. 

I choose to visit with my heart’s eyes, spirit, and wairua. In allowing that, I can approach Te Taiao, the natural world, and see through the eyes and hearts of all the fantastic living creatures who inhabit our glorious blue planet, the animals, plants and minerals. 

I choose to approach the lifeforms visible and invisible, to live in the meeting place where all these worlds overlap, intersect and interact.

My work, visual and written, is about making the likeness of the wonder of our natural world in words and pictures and drawing people’s attention to it. Perhaps, as we realise the glory of what is before us, we will decide to honour it and be the kaitiaki (caretakers) our species was always meant to be.

The time for talking and taking has passed. 

It is now time to give back, honour and return.

Kotahitanga. Unity

Whanaungatanga. Family

Manaakitanga. Cherishing and Caring

Kaitiakitanga. Guardianship

These are the four pou (pillars) of our responsibility to Papatuuaanuku and our calling as artists.

My work also sits under the watchful gaze of four atua (gods)

Taawhirimaatea, the God of the winds and all the creatures that live within his round, visible and invisible. 

Taane Mahuta, the God of all the living things that dwell upon the earth, including plants and animals.

Hine Moana, the daughter of Tangaroa, who is the atua responsible for the rivers and inland waters and all the creatures who live within them.

Papatuuaanuku, Mother Earth, and the earth itself, including the minerals and rocks.

My visual art seeks to honour the unique haa (breath) of each of them, while my words seek to weave all of them together.


Ngaa Mauri Wha are the four elements, Earth, Wind, Water and Living Plants. 

Each gallery represents my response to what that element has wanted to show me.

All my works are available for purchase

You can follow the link to my external gallery and purchase the work online.

Alternatively, you may wish to have me make a hand-printed work for you.

I make each work on archival cotton rag paper using light-fast pigment inks, then sign it with my tohu (logo) before shipping it to you.

Please get in touch with me for details.

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Tony Bridge Artist Copyright © 2020 All Rights Reserved