Beauty and the Beast - a Conceptional Yarn

30 July, 2019
Beauty and the Beast - a Conceptional Yarn

Once upon a time... there was a land far away from all the other continents on earth with a unique flora and fauna and no mammals - this land was later called Aotearoa and then New Zealand. Amongst numerous endemic beings was a plant nowadays known as Harakeke, Phormium tenax or New Zealand Flax. When Maori settled in Aotearoa they discovered it's many unique qualities. It was an important fibre, medicine and food plant, and to this day treated as taonga/treasure. This is the "Beauty" in my little yarn story. It shall embody the local, the beloved, the good.

What about the "Beast"? In the 19th century some of New Zealand's European settlers thought it would be a good idea to start a fur industry, so they introduced Australian possums to New Zealand. The Common Brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) has beautiful soft and warm fur and a big appetite for plants, flowers, nectar, insects, snails, eggs, chicks and even adults of many native birds. With no natural enemies they have quickly become one of the biggest problem for the native flora and fauna (Source: There could be no better "Beast" for my yarn story. It shall embody the alien, the hated, the bad.

Left photo: "Beauty" Harakeke (Phormium tenax), Right photo ©Nga Manu: "Beast" Common Brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

Left photo: "Beauty" Muka (fibre from Harakeke leaves), Right photo: "Beast" Possum fur (naturally grey and dyed with Harakeke seed pods) on Taranaki andesite,

The story of those two is paradigmatic for New Zealand. Several immigrants, foreign cultures and introduced species have colonised and destroyed very quickly well balanced ecosystems and indigenous traditions. No wonder there is still a constant battle going on in this country between good and bad, beloved and hated, local and alien - Beauty and the Beast.

But what if - just like in the fairytale - Beauty would fall in love with the Beast? What if they would entwine their unique qualities to create something new?

What if humans, regardless of where they come from, would use the gift of conciousness? Could they create balance and beauty in the here and now?

This yarn is asking questions and it's an experiment. If all that is possible in fairytales and we can make it happen in the art of spinning, then humans must be capable of putting it into reality.

And then this story might end:

...and they all lived happily ever after!

Tags: natural fibres, fibre art, local colours, art yarn, handspinning, natural colours, natural dyeing, harakeke, muka, muka yarn

For more of my recent work find me on Facebook and Instagram.