Jess first encounter with weaving was at the side of kuia of Ngati Awa. This first experience has provided a firm foundation for all following learning. Having later completed formal training at Unitec, Auckland, Jess continues to weave together ideas and learning with other weavers throughout the motu.
“Raranga [the art of weaving] has become a constant companion to me. It is not what I do but rather who I am. Raranga, I think, captures the true meaning of the word ‘mahi’. That is; work that fully engages a person’s thoughts, feelings and spirit and these are then translated through the hands. When you become intimate with Raranga in this way, it is a model that is applied in other areas of your life. You tend to see life through a lens of how it can be woven together to create form and pattern and sense to you personally.
“I am passionate about making kete. Kete are the most mobile form of the art of Maori weaving. They get to go out with their owners and they then attract people to themselves. In this way kete have the power to bring people together, and a conversation begins.
“However, sculptural work is a newer direction for me and brings with it scope to share philosophical views with others. At this point I am working with woven PouPou forms. For me PouPou serve as a point of reference. They provide grounding and centeredness to a given kaupapa.”
Artist Statement 2001