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The story of The Warrior and The Lover
"The Warrior and the Lover" was inspired by Maori, Pacific, Asian and Indian art making practices, including weaving, feather cloaks (korowai) and Chinese scroll paintings.
The narrative of the painting could be interpreted as Sky Father Ranginui reaching down to connect with his lover, Earth Mother Papatuanuku. Sofia also thinks of the male figure as Tane-nui-a-rangi, god of the forest and progenitor of mankind, who ascended through the 12 heavens to retrieve the three baskets of knowledge. We see him planting his knowledge back down on earth by connecting to Mt Hikurangi with its distinctive ridge line seen here in silhouette form. Mt Hikurangi is the sacred mountain of the Ngāti Porou iwi or people from the East Cape of New Zealand from whom Sofia decends.
The intricate background patterns fuse Indian mehndi designs with Pacific and Maori designs such as the double spiral, which represents the unfurling of creation.
The rope was hand-plaited by Sofia and each strand, 'he muka', represents the individuals that make up the plaited-rope or 'taura whiri' of the iwi or tribe. Social antrhopologist Dame Joan Metge suggests in her book 'Tuamaka: The Challenge of Difference in Aotearoa New Zealand' that "what we need to weave together is not just head knowledge of each other's cultures, but heart knowledge of the people who are the holders of that knowledge, creating what artist Cliff Whiting has depicted visually as 'the rope of peoples'. Only by supporting each other will we be able to stand upright here."