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“This painting is my most sentimental object. It reminds me of the best time of my life. We were having good times, building castles and houses from wooden blocks and lego. The kids were so happy. At the time we were building our real house and imagining how nice it would one day be. It represents this time and how much we wanted to have this house. The kids spent so much time building with these wooden blocks, making huge castles and lego cities.
Rianna, my son Killian’s friend, painted this when she was seven or eight. She isn’t here anymore, she moved to England. She was my friend, we spent a lot of time together. Riri lived with us for quite a few years, I often babysat her. We really clicked, even when she was so little. We kept a friendship for all these years and have written many letters to each other.
Rianna and I used to make art and clothes together. We would also play card games all the time and sing rockabilly songs. She was the best. I taught her my favourite card game and she loved it. I thought I was so good at it and then she would beat me every single time. She was in a band with Killian as well. Little Riri often slept here, and she’d always leave a t-shirt behind so she could come back to get it. I still have one t-shirt of hers here.
This was a few years after I arrived in New Zealand. I couldn’t really be myself properly. I felt like an outsider. I recently created my own chalk drawing of another house that reminds me of this time, and of Rianna’s painting. It’s so happy and colourful, yet it’s wobbly. This artwork represents the comfort of a house, yet how everything can be so fragile. One wrong move in your life and your house and family can fall apart.”
What does sentimentality mean to you?
“It’s a feeling, a place where I go for comfort, and sometimes it makes me cry. When I feel bad, I transport myself back in time to these memories.” - Tatiana, Golden Bay, Tākaka (Interview: Chloe Mason) Find her: @hellskitchenforges

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