Environmental artist Birgit Moffatt has captured the tranquility of the forest, using leaves and natural materials to create an installation of eco-dyed papers, in her exhibition Safe Space, which has opened at MAHARA iti in Waikanae.

‘In Safe Space, Birgit invites the viewer to pause and experience a sense of calmness and peace, which contrasts with the uncertain and stressful world in which we live,’ says MAHARA Gallery Director, Janet Bayly.

‘She has a considerable following for her thoughtful and meditative workshops in eco-dying, weaving and experiencing the natural world from a creative perspective.’

Safe Space was originally shown at Whirinaki Whare Taonga. But, because of Covid, Janet Bayly thought that Kāpiti people who follow textile arts would appreciate the opportunity to view it in MAHARA’s new temporary gallery, MAHARA iti.

Janet Bayly says that since Birgit moved to New Zealand, in 2011, she has become immersed in te ao Māori and closely connected to te taiao (the interconnection between people and nature).

Born in East Berlin, she now lives in rural Ōtaki. 

Moffatt graduated from Whitireia with a Bachelor of Applied Arts majoring in textiles in 2017. Since then her art practice has extended into creating larger sculptural forms, while mostly working with natural materials.  

She has received several awards recently for her work in national exhibitions, including the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award, Changing Threads Awards and the upcoming RT Nelson Sculpture Award.

‘My rural surroundings reflect in my work through earthy colour palettes, rich textures and the use of natural components,’ says Birgit. 

‘As far as possible, I prefer to create my own materials in their purest form. I am a keen explorer of natural dyes, using plant parts and other natural elements to achieve sophisticated results that are often unexpected and serendipitous.

‘My work process involves experimental combinations of various elements to test how they might express ideas around belonging and cultural identity.’

There is an opporunity to hear her discuss her philosophy and demonstrate her working methods during her Floortalk at MAHARA iti on Thursday 26 May, 3–4pm. (RSVPs required for numbers: popup@maharagallery.org.nz)

Safe Space is on at MAHARA iti until 15 July 2022, Mon–Fri  |  10am – 4pm