Ancestral Imprint

Is the structure of our DNA merely the mountain upon which our Ancestors are calling?

As I was adopted from an early age into a White/Caucasian family I am interested in exploring the Nature Vs Nurture debate, the question of whether ancestral nature (our DNA/genetic imprint) holds more sway than immediate environmental (social/cultural) factors. I wasn’t really exposed to my own Papua New Guinean culture till later in life but I have always been drawn to certain patterns and remember, during lunch breaks at primary school, even recreating traditional tapa-making methods despite never having been shown a finished work of tapa bark cloth let alone taught the traditional methods.

Through Ancestral Imprint I seek to weave a translation of generational knowledge through blood and intuition. The work incorporates my own tapa design heritage from the Oro Province, northern Papua New Guinea, where tapa cloth-making and designs are traditionally passed down from mother to daughter.

Weniki Hensch grew up in Brisbane and as a young adult headed to Currumbin, on the Gold Coast, where she learned the art of surfboard spraying before moving to Melbourne where she undertook training in traditional stained glass and restoration techniques. She exhibited her first glass piece as part of the international skateboard exhibition No Comply (2008). Since then Weniki has been exploring and strengthening her techniques in acrylic and watercolour painting through travel and work between the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation in Yuendumu, Alice Springs, and Melbourne over the last six years. Her most recent work was shown as part of the 18C exhibition (2014) at Melbourne’s Blak Dot Gallery which was curated in response to the proposed removal of sections 18B-E of the Racial Discrimination Act.

After recently moving to Darwin ‘on a whim’, Weniki has felt ‘both invigorated and compelled by the all-consuming silk of sweat and monsoonal rains’. Ancestral Imprint is her first installation-based work and represents a new direction in exploring her (and her daughter’s) Papua New Guinean heritage and identity.

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