The symbolism of the largest artwork installation at Tui House is impossible to miss.
Sarah Brill’s The Embrace is a cloak or korowai made of 250 stainless steel huia feathers dipped in black, gold and silver. Each feather has been hand-etched and inked. Many are marked with a cross, representing first aid, care, support, love or a kiss.
Sarah says collectively, the piece represents the all-embracing care that hospice provides for patients and families living with a life-shortening illness.
“For Maori, the huia was revered as a symbol of nobility, leadership and hierarchy,” she says. “The white-tipped tail feathers were worn as head adornments to signify chiefs and people of great mana.”
It has taken Sarah more than year to finish the cloak, but she says it has been an enjoyable process.
The feathers have also played a role in fundraising, with a single feather representing a donation of $1000 and an additional 50 framed feathers representing $1600 each.
Sarah says her artwork frequently highlights lost treasures, especially wildlife.
“Rather than raise awareness in a negative way, I like to highlight the beauty so people will care more.
Hospice does a similar thing. Instead of dwelling on death it chooses to celebrate the life of the person who is dying.”