Guest Artists - Festival of Pots 2019
Wi Te Tau Taepa
Te Arawa, Ngati Whakaue, Te Atiawa.
Wi is a sculptor, potter and multi materials artist. His works are included in galleries and collections throughout New Zealand, America and Tahiti.
For more than 50 years Wi has used art to tell stories, remind us of whakapapa and make observations about life from a Maori perspective.
It is the mark in the clay that tells the story, using the elements of design, Wi weaves meaning and story into form and material.
The Auckland City Art Gallery featured his retrospective exhibition throughout 2018. This exhibition began at Pataka in Porirua, and will be travelling to other galleries.
Wi Te Tau Taepa with Manos Nathan, Colleen Urlich, Paerau Corneal and Baye Riddell founded Nga Kaihanga Uku 25 years ago. A collective of Maori Clay artists, the Nga Kaihanga Uku movement is a forum of Maori contemporary Uku. From small beginnings this collective is celebrated in National exhibitions and public art.
Wi has been teaching for more than 30 years, a new generation of his students are using the medium of clay/ Uku and contributing their stories to the national discussion.
Throughout my art career I have always use paint or drawing to convey an idea because of their surreal qualities using line, tone and colour to convey an image of transcendence or real continent, but I have also chosen to work with clay because for its organic response and seductive qualities, for me clay is a medium with chameleon characteristics and an automatic response. That automatic response is the memory of clay, which gives clay the ability to show me what I can and can’t do with it, material dictating or guiding the outcome of my work. It’s through the stages of construction that clay reveals its true possibilities and then its intense transformation during the firing process, Raku or high-firing.
The symbolic and structural continent that runs through my work is based on memory of a life experiences, cultural value or transcendence in my life. Memory or a regression initiated through a familiar object, a place or smell, can bring with it a collective memory of lived experiences, historical memories that are connected to family, communities, industry and the land. These are key components that help drive and fuel my imagination, which can embody an object and help reveal forms and emotions that are as genuine or real as the actual encounters of life. This process helps to reveal intimate visual memories connected through time with material process, which gives spirit to the selective memories that help shape my artwork.
After several years of working as a metal artist and selling my work in art galleries, I began to realise how much I valued relating with the next caretaker of the work I created. This part of the process was missing..... which is the main reason this website has come about. My work is so much more than a transaction of money for an object of desire.
I put a lot of time and energy into every piece and I am very grateful to have found artistic metal working as a form of expression.
I use whatever means available to me to form metal of various types - steel, stainless steel and copper. This includes a beautiful old blacksmiths coal forge built in 1873, which I love working with most of all.
My great, great grandfather and his grandfather were both blacksmiths who worked with wrought iron. I am not a blacksmith, rather an artisan who uses many different techniques to shape metal.