Maggie Hubert THE INEFFABLE LIFE: Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua

  • Tauira / Student
    Maggie Hubert
  • Kaiako / Lecturer
    Matt Liggins
  • School
    The University of Auckland Waipapa Taumata Rau

This project offers a tribute to deep friendship and the incongruous places it is found. It asks what an architecture capable of cultivating affection, and indeed prolonging accord in the face of life’s finitude, might be. In these senses the project holds to an inherent generosity in architecture – its capacity to build and to prolong memory. In turn, it asks what a crystallisation of the ineffable might be like.

As an artist prior to studying architecture, I had found my way to two special people: José Bribiesca and Paul Hartigan—both artists and storytellers who generously shared their unique grasp on the world with me over time. This project seeks to make sense of this generosity. It is a tribute to the interstitial place and time of our rapport, but also, a kind of mirror-portraiture addressed to the future.

While the contingencies of life coloured our togetherness with concern, affection, and sadly passing in José’s case, I turned to ceramic media to better investigate and experiment with architectural themes I felt subsisted with both artists’ work and our relating. Clay, with its capacity for malleable and impressionable reworking, spoke to me of memory—fragile at first but robust upon firing. My reworking of clay by hand offered a surrogate kind of record-making and suggested a ‘field of memories’ could be carried, allegorically, by architectural vignettes.

On a plot of land in West Auckland recently purchased with my partner for a future house, I set about composing a speculative architecture addressing ways for sharing and extending affectionate connection. Various built forms were conceived to imaginatively house the personal and creative dimensions of José and Paul’s lives, along with how these might intertwine with those I wished for myself. To this end the project plays complexly with distance and togetherness, concealment and exposure, sharing and waiting, testing how the fragile, ineffable qualities of affection might be embodied, narrated and prolonged spatially, formally, materially.

Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua. I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past.