Photo Essay | Lyn Dallison, Lani Keha: A Hawaiian Residency

Arriving at Lani Keha, you drive up an arcade of tall trees with extraordinary illuminated spaces framed by lush foliage, then you emerge into the full light and the house sits nestled under a sharp volcanic hill, locally known as ‘The Sleeping Giant’.

I think it was on that first day that I became completely enraptured by the flora (and my planned project began to unravel as the focus of my residency!) which was to become the perfect subject for an obsessive drawing project during my artist residency on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii.

I had prepared for the residency by undertaking to learn simple forms of kete weaving. The general idea was to make a sculpture weaving patterns, crafts and contemporary cultural notions, linking Pacific cultures. Nothing too ambitious you understand!

The residency owner, Noe Kidder, is an independent filmmaker from New York. She and her husband, Mark, spent a week at the residency with me. A time of sharing food, ideas, film and book recommendations, politics, and histories: sublime.

Luckily enough, Noe and I were able to have a workshop with Eugene ‘Onio’ Punzal, learning basic coconut palm weaving techniques. He was an able teacher and lovely storyteller, so we had an extraordinary afternoon weaving in his garage.

Most mornings were spent drawing in the in the garden. I had taken a small selection of pens and pencils, but added coffee dregs for colour as well as colour from the vegetation. It was a very pleasurable activity and I generally had to drag myself away by afternoon. I worked on my sculptural project using wood I collected from the beach, the mountain and the garden playing with ideas of Pacifica colour and pattern, while thinking about foreignness, colonisation, cultural dominance, and how these things influenced art and sculpture. The rumination was a central part of being a resident artist in a familiar, yet foreign, place.