Paintings in the night sky / 18 July 2011
Garbage © Magnus Danbolt
We are sailing north, Polaris guides us through the night, the east swell through the day. We are on the edge of an incredible phenomena, the North Pacific Gyre. During the last three days we have been sailing through an increasing amount of disposed items from our civilization. Plastic things, ropes, clothes hangers, crates, bottles, sheets of thin plastic wrapping. We don’t know what everything is. Only that they are products of our society dumped right out in the ocean. And now they are being caught and collected in the big spiral current in the north pacific. We are sailing through the biggest rubbish dump on earth.
Taro patches and planters in the valley of Waipi’o, PELE the goddess of Fire with her long fiery reddish hair wrapping the slopes of KILAUEA, Hokulea and her crew members voyaging in the open ocean, these are some of the many stories immortalized by the famous painter and visionary man from HAWAII, Herb Kawainui KANE.
Navigator II, one of his visionary paintings speaks in the palette of a clear night of a vast deep blue sky with the tones of silver grey and charcoal contours. In the middle of the painting, still, quiet as the paved rocks he is sitting on, a man is gazing at the stars. He is immense, such as the vastness of the sky. Although he looks solitary, the freshness of the evening seems to wrap him as a cloak, and with the stars tracing their way he is in dialogue.
Since the fleet started its journey this year, new apprentice navigators are trained, thanks to the ones who have been taught by Mau a generation ago. On each vaka, the knowledge is passed on. And at night, they gaze at the stars, and print their pathways in their brain. As the birds, the turtles and the whales who seem to have certain maps printed in their brains.
POLARIS the Northern star is our focal point at night for now, and the crew members make sure to maintain a course with this star by our main mast during the night. For many, many generations, the vaka have not sailed all the way up to the “Big Turtle” as the Native American call their ancestral land. Our oral chants that keep the memories and records recall the story of the “Turtle People” arriving to our shores. On their way back to their Homeland, some of our heroes followed them and it is said that some evidence of their journey to the land of the Big Turtle remain to this today. Probably in the brains of the whales and the birds migrating from south to north. Some tracks are printed in our brains but since many generations, POLARIS is re-activated.
As the Navigator gazing into the stars at night in Herb Kane’s painting, the stars talk about eternal pathways, and if in the past our ancestors were looking for new lands, we today are navigating to re-activate the value of eternity : respect, care and joy. By the way, The Northern Star in Hawaiian is HOKUPAA, the one who stays firm.