Ipu "Waka"

Wi Taepa, Artist

This is one of the ceramic artworks in our collection. It was made in Whanganui Region, New Zealand in 1999.
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Object Detail

About the Work
“I first encountered Wi Taepa’s work in an Exhibition of pre-eminent Māori artists held at the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt in 1999 when Tim Walker was the Director there. It was the first time I had encountered a group show of Māori artists.

Funnily enough though I had visited the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York a few years earlier and was lucky enough to have an introduction to a senior curator there. She was so overcome when I told her I was from Aotearoa. She told me about the opening ceremony of Te Māori in 1982 and how spine chilling it was to hear the Māori people burst into waiata in that incredible atrium area. She told how people were moved to tears by the performers and that it was an unforgettable experience. I felt very moved by her words and that of her colleagues. It made me feel proud to be a New Zealander.

The artists at the Dowse exhibition had mostly been part of that outstanding Te Māori exhibition that toured the US in the early eighties. I was blown away. I purchased Wi’s piece in this exhibition, Rūaumoko, son of sky father Ranginui (Rangi) and earth mother Papatūānuku (Papa), who is thought responsible for all violent stirrings beneath the earth. The work was stored in Diana Handley’s Karori home until its’ eventual transportation to my then home at Kai Iwi, Whanganui. During the trip Ruaumoko’s right buttock was damaged. Wi came up from Otaki to repair him and Wi and I have been friends ever since. I love his work.”

-Nicola Williams MNZM, Chairman of the Sarjeant Gallery Trust Board, for the July 2021 instalment of the My Choice exhibition series.

This work was included in Wi's graduation exhibition at the Quay School of the Arts in 1999, another step in more than a decade of his exploring clay as a means of self-expression. Whanganui has been his 'other home' for most of his life.

"Wi Taepa worked as a carver before he began working with clay. With clay he felt a greater freedom because there were few of the rules that applied to working with wood. The speed of clay work suited him, too – he was able to capture an idea while it was still fresh.
He also enjoyed the unpredictable way the colours of the clay emerged naturally during firing. They included the subtle range of browns, silvers, and greys that come particularly from wood firing. He continues to use a low-tech approach, building his works by hand and using oxides and other clay slips.
Wi’s innovations grow out of his knowledge of customary forms and designs. Many of his works are based on shapes like ipu (containers) that were originally made from gourds, flax, and bark. He has studied the way early Polynesian and Māori artists created patterns of notches and lines, and he recreates the same effects in clay using both man-made and natural tools.
For Wi, the origin of the clay is linked to its eventual use. For example, if he is making a ceremonial ipu (container), he will use some clay from the eventual owner’s ancestral land."
Accessed 28/02/13 from NZ Potters website http://www.nzpotters.com/Conferences/Gisborne/Wi_Te_Tau_Pirika_Taepa.cfm
280 x 290 x 530 mm
raku bodied clay, oxide, gas fired to 1180 C
Large ceramic oblong shaped bowl form with a manaia form at each end and a tiki form at the centre of each side. The outer surface is textured with subtle vertical ridges.
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Purchased with funds donated by Patrons of the Sarjeant Gallery, 1999
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
30 Nov 1999



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