This piece has been re-worked from an earlier version, originally named 'Where do I find Love?' Tōa is a Maori word, translating to describe courage and bravery. It is a word given to warriors, and people of great and fierce spirit.
On the flip side, it is also a word given to describe mercenary's, due to the cut throat nature of everything. It speaks to the 'at all costs' mentality to who one is inside, and who they could become. What would we sacrifice to find love? And to what end? Is assumed love worth profound dishonestly? Do we need a sacrificial lamb to offer the Gods of our own insecurity? Whose heart would we break to fill the void in our own? And is it ever worth it to break someone just to build yourself up?
To me, Casey was the pinnacle of a Warrior woman. I've witnessed her fall down 100x and get up 101, all with added strength and strut. This is a trait becoming rarer in celebraties, and as a woman, and the mother of a daughter, the value I placed on this was beyond measure. No one can live up to that.
Casey is flawed, young, vulnerable - and in my opinion, violated and let down by the machine that made her familiar to so many of us. The piece has the lyrics underlaid 'not broken enough to bleed' lyrics from her earlier song, aptly titled 'Shattered.' One of her more raw, honest and vulnerable songs, it speaks of being hurt, but not allowing that hurt to ever get the better of her. It features Casey in many incarnations - namely her younger vulnerable self, merging into a version of the Mama Cass powerhouse (the straighter hair) merging with the fearless wild woman with a mane of hair bursting from her, which is intended to represent the incredibly powerful stage presence she is.
I've long believe Casey to be connected to a place that is other worldly, and her and I have spoken often of the Maori term, Mana. In Maori culture, mana is defined in many ways. It is honour. To have mana is to have great authority, presence or prestige. It is respect. Casey commands it when she connects to this part of herself. To abuse it, or to abuse those who celebrate it, is an act of betrayal to the Gods themselves.
The appearance in the work, is that of loss, sadness and confusion - yet serene and hopeful. This piece is highly contrasted - huge brush strokes reminiscent of street art, with the shadow blocks giving a sense of calm of what lies beneath. The hands over her ears communicate the sense of being overwhelmed, wanting to shut the world out - but not afraid, and she is holding it all together and yet holding it in. Hiding behind the noise.
Determined, not desperate - the microphone tattoo featured as the way in which Casey sublimates her pain. He hair, representative of her gift, depicted as bursting from within her. Like Casey herself, the piece was intended to be bold, graphic and commanding - but bursting with with love, and genuine heart. I took the colour scheme back to highly textured and overlaid monochrome to speak the contrast, and balance, of her world, her culture and the extreme contradiction of her past and present self.