Tullia

“These are little wooden blocks that my grandmother gave to my sister Eva and I when we were three or four. I got my name, she got her name and they sat on our window sill forever. The theory is that they’re jigsaw puzzles, but really they’ve got no use except for looking cute. I’ve tried to give them functionality and use them as hot mats and as bookends, but it didn’t really work. These are cute pieces of wood that have been in my life forever. 

If there was a fire in my home the first thing I would grab are these photos of my family and I. Eva made both of these frames. She got the stones from the Heaphy when we walked the track. One of these photos is of Mum, Dad and I tramping, soon after Eva died. We went up Anatoki forks and took the cutest photo ever. 

Eva was 14 when she passed away and I was 16. I miss her a lot sometimes, but I choose to believe that her energy is still around me. A lot of my tattoos have symbolic meaning in reference to our sisterhood or to her energy being here, but also not here. Here but not physically tangible. While I don’t consciously think of her every single day anymore, she still was a huge part of my life, and still is, constantly. The grief isn’t quite so painful now, it’s not so sharp. In the start, I would maybe look at these photos and cry, versus now, where I see these as sweet memories that are really precious to me, I love that they’ve lost their sharpness. They’re sweet and peach coloured rather than hard and pointy.”

What does sentimentality mean to you? 
“It’s something that’s imbued with connection and meaningfulness. It’s like a warm nostalgia. Sentimentality is warm, fuzzy, sweet memories. If I had sentimental thoughts, I would be reminiscing of gentle, fun, easy, peaceful times. 

Without having thought about it very much, I probably would’ve said that sentimentality is heirloom status, like Granny’s opal ring, but I don’t know if it is that, for me or for anybody. It’s way more about memories than it is actual things. I think my things transport me to people or places. This photo reminds me of my parents, our mountain trip, the loss in our life and Eva. I feel nostalgic about all of those items, but it’s this tangible thing that has prompted that thought process.” - Tullia, Golden Bay, Tākaka (Interview: Chloe Mason)