Maui is one of my favourite places. I wanted to do a Portrait from Polynesia for this project, and Hawai’i was a natural choice for me. Learning about Hawaiian history and culture has been a real highlight of my visits there.
Pua ma’o hau hele is the Hawaiian word for yellow hibiscus. Unlike the other Portraits which feature a perfect profile, in Pua ma’o hau hele the woman’s face is twisted ever so slightly towards the viewer, as if she is just about to turn and make eye contact. The shift in perspective makes Pua ma’o hau hele feel dynamic and familiar.
My strong preference would have been to use koa wood, but I don’t have good access to it. Instead, I hand-selected pieces of mahogany with similar natural movement. This is one of the hardest pieces I have ever done. The pearls on the necklace bordered on insanity. There were a number of times that I was tempted to simplify the piece or shelve it. I pushed through, though, and it was well worth the extra effort.