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 feel particularly drawn to the ways in which form was executed through a transposition of an ipu (container traditionally made of flax or gourd) through a new material (clay, whenua) that holds a deep cultural and phenomenological significance across Maori cosmology. The ‘Waka’ form and title of this ipu by Wi Taepa is both broad and generous: I am drawn to his use of raku and a lighter clay slip that has been applied by hand, leaving grooved traces both outside and within the vessel. The notion of a vessel that signifies this metaphorical hybridity is appealing to me because of the ways in which it connects cultural practices to broader themes of Aotearoa’s complex ecologies. This container, be it one used for storing harvested goods within the pātaka, or for transporting bodies across the awa, is a beautiful reminder of those relationships we have with nature." - Areez Katki for the May 2023 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 Many of his works are based on shapes like ipu (containers) that were originally made from gourds, flax, and bark.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



Accession Number:

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