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Ngä Toko Rima Opens At Te Papa Tomorrow

Ngä Toko Rima * Contemporary Clayworks Exhibition Opens At Te Papa Tomorrow

"Ngä Toko Rima - five fingernails of fire obtained by Maui, five fingers of the hand that moulds the clay, five unique artists with a common philosophy".

Ngä Toko Rima* Contemporary clayworks is an exciting new exhibition celebrating the powerful and innovative work of artists Baye Riddell, Manos Nathan, Colleen Urlich, Wi Taepa, and Paerau Corneal, from Ngä Kaihanga Uku, the Mäori clayworkers' collective.

The five artist are the founding members of Nga Kaihanga Uku originally formed in 1986, and came together with a shared desire to make works in clay based on kaupapa Mäori (fundamental Mäori principles).

Mäori relate to the essential elements of claywork - clay, fire, sand, and water - through their whakapapa (genealogy) to the creation stories and it is this that provided the foundation for the artists work. Carved köauau (flutes), exquisitely decorated waka käkano (seed pots), and dramatic works inspired by ancient funerary chests are shown, as well as elegant contemporary interpretations of female deities and the Christian crucifixion symbols.

Nga Kaihanga Uku have developed a cooperative style of working, supported by their elders and by other Mäori and Pakeha artists. They have also been involved in cultural exchange with other indigenous peoples who have a tradition of working with clay. Although these five artists share a commitment to kaupapa Mäori (fundamental Mäori principles), the themes and style of each is unique.

Manos Nathan has placed much of his work within the framework of his tribe's customary practices, while Baye Riddell's work embraces both Mäori and Christian beliefs. Colleen Urlich and Paerau Corneal draw on powerful female figures in Mäori creation stories.

Colleen's journey has also taken her back to the clay work of the ancient Pacific Lapita culture, while Paerau has developed strong abstract forms. In Wi Taepa's work, innovative design is combined with customary Mäori and Polynesian forms.

Ngä Toko Rima / Contemporary clayworks opens on Wednesday 22 October and runs until April 2005, The Terrace, Level 6. Admission is free.

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