A decade ago, artist duo Lissy Robinson-Cole and Rudi Robinson, known also as Lissy & Rudi, began crocheting playful additions to their neighborhood in Auckland, New Zealand. The pair yarn-bombed local fences and covered their car in fiber, and by 2018, they were thinking even bigger, imagining a full-size wharenui—a traditional Māori communal house—made entirely from brightly-colored yarn. “Straightaway, the vision was very clear,” the artists told a local news outlet. “We didn’t know how we were going to do it, or anything at that stage, but we just had the vision in our minds of this whare.”
The remarkable, glowing “Wharenui Harikoa,” which translates to “House of Joy,” emerged from 5,000 balls of wool that Lizzy & Rudi hand-stitched into vivid poupou panels, a tekoteko gable figure, patterned tukutuku beams, and an elaborate pou tokomanawa, or center post. Wharenui play a significant role in Māori custom as gathering places, usually forming the focal point of a sacred clearing known as a marae, which connects people to their ancestors, or tūpuna. Neon colors, glowing under black light, add an exuberant touch to myriad patterns and textures, creating an immersive, prismatic space in a celebration of Māori culture and heritage.
“Wharenui Harikoa” opens today at Waikato Museum in Hamilton, New Zealand, and will be on view through March 17, 2024. Explore more vibrant work on the artists’ Instagram.