welcome home.

6 June 2012

people make interesting assumptions about my latest tattoo.  without asking me about its meaning, most people have taken the liberty to conclude that it is simply a tribute to christchurch, affirming the garden city as my home. a few others have guessed that the phrase referred to my return to Canada this year. i generally let people think what they like - regardless of what it means to me (or anyone else),  it's a piece of art that i am very proud to wear, commissioned by one of  my favourite christchurch friends, and I couldn't be happier with the finished product. for me, it is rich with meaning, and I love it so much.

the focal element of the design is the cup of tea, which is reminiscent of a good ol' kiwi 'cuppa,' which one is unfailingly offered upon arrival at someone's home. the 'cuppa' liturgy is close to my heart, an act of hospitality that I plan to keep with me wherever I roam. the particular design of the teacup - red roses, reminiscent of royal albert's 'old country roses' - is an homage to my great grandmother, who remains an inspiration to me, and who was quick to offer a cup of tea to whoever crossed her threshold. I remember her asking me how I take my tea when I was about 10 yrs old, and yet to procure a preference for milk and sugar. the cup of tea is symbolic of both falling in love with a new tradition, and discovering my whakapapa ('where i came from', in short) while in new zealand.

the postcard in the bottom half of the piece depicts the port hills, one of my favorite things about otautahi, and a place I have often found peace and a renewed perspective. i love the little touch of the love heart on the envelope... 

one of nz's most loved musicians, Dave Dobbyn, has a song that is quite close to my heart, and it depicts the character of nz so beautifully; this refrain, which refers to a maori elder, singing the native 'welcome' to guests, has never fails to bring a tear to my eye:
'there's a woman with trembling hands, Haere Mai, 
and she sings with a mountain's memory, Haere Mai...'

a week after the earthquakes in christchurch, Dave Dobbyn performed during the city-wide memorial service. i managed to hold it together for the whole service, but after it finished, Dobbyn sang this song, Welcome Home, and it was then that the tears began to fall... 

the words in the piece are both a nod to that classic kiwiana ballad, and to a song with the same name by ska band,The OC Supertones. the lyrics of the supertones song became particularly poignant in the months following the earthquake: 
well it's times like these and days like this
that remind me i'm living the wilderness
and you don't know when trouble's gonna come your way
or when God's gonna give or take it away

this life, this life is fleeting
everything, everything's dying
but one day
i'll awake
all my problems and my sin
they won't matter to me then:
'son, welcome home.'

the day doesn't guarantee to come again
and life only promises that it will end
and we all gotta stand before the Lord one day
and i don't wanna die, but i don't wanna stay
down here
i feel like a stranger 
i know i don't belong here
i wanna run and i'll fall
down at Jesus' feet and lay
i can't wait to hear him say, 
'son, welcome home.'

but i'm still here
and i'm tired
tired of sin and struggling
tired of almost everything
and sometimes, small and clear
i could swear that i could hear
angel voices in my ear, singing,
'welcome home.'

as you can see, this tattoo means a lot to me. it was the icing on the cake of an epic trip to melbourne. if you are ever in melbourne, or even australia, and keen for a beautiful, custom tattoo in a traditional style, go see Antony!! he works at green lotus tattoo, and the whole crew there were a blast to hang out with for a couple days. to check out more of antony's work, click here, or to visit the green lotus website, click here

- antony and i - 


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