The theme of this conference is to explore and highlight the use of the arts as a means to bolster literacy or higher learning through diverse literary methods. Not only reading and writing but also dance, song, visual arts and other forms of expression. These can be tools that aid learners in understanding concepts that may otherwise be hard- to-grasp. In this way, the ‘arts’ bridge our sense of deeper understanding.
This theme seemed particularly pertinent to the location of our conference, in a city known for its river Avon and numerous bridges that cross this winding waterway. Although it has long been home to a number of galleries and creatives, including the oldest art-school in New Zealand (Ilam School of Fine Arts), post-quake, Christchurch has reinvented itself from a colonial English settlement into a destination for street artists and other creatives from around the world. Many of these public artworks have now become icons of the city, and have given the city a new and invigorating persona.
The design this year came about through discussing how we might represent the theme visually. Starting with an arch shape, and then simplifying it with ‘blocks’. These blocks then began to mimic the poutama pattern seen in tukuktuku panels. Poutama patterns, “symbolise the various levels of learning and intellectual achievement. Some say they represent the steps which Tāne-o-te-wānanga ascended to the topmost realm in his quest for superior knowledge and religion.” This seemed to perfectly fit with the ideas behind the conference theme the CLA committee members presented. The colours used can be seen to represent the wai, water, that runs underneath bridges and river crossings or the sky (kahurangi), the realm where knowledge is gathered in Maori legend.