The name of this exhibition, Koru, refers to the uncurling spiral of the new fern frond. A most traditional icon in Maori culture, it has come to symbolize new life, new growth, and new beginnings. It is a motif that recurs throughout Maori art and is a favourite design form of the artist.
Kerry Thompson (1967-) has now been carving for twenty years. He has established his position as the leading Maori artist working in the bone medium, and he has developed an immediately recognizable personal style in his work that can include his signature two-tone staining process, which sets his work apart.
He works in a wide variety of materials including cattle bone, whale bone, ivory, mother of pearl, jade, wood, silver, and semi precious stones.
Having attended a diploma course in Maori Design at Waiariki Polytechnic, he also learned from Hepi Maxwell, Rex Christianson, and other artists working in the similar media. In 1992 he earned a position as a jade tutor for the Whangaroa Trust in Kaeo. Later, in 1994, through a grant from Te Waka Toi, he became a full time artist working primarily in jade and bone.
Kerry still produces his ornate “wearable art” in varied mediums, but over the last several years has also moved to produce larger and more challenging works, such as sculptural masks and figurative forms, as well as inlaid flutes, delicate heru (decorative ceremonial combs), and carved vessels.
His art has a contemporary flavour, while incorporating elements of traditional Maori design, which compliment his complex curvilinear sense of design. His work has been well received by both critics and collectors both in New Zealand and overseas (and was catalogued recently in the “Kiwa – Pacific Connections” exhibition at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in September 2003).
I would like to dedicate this exhibition to the life of my father, Karl TePuhi Pekaitara Wikiriwhi Thompson, who passed away on the 18th August 2004.
He was privileged to be named after his ancestor, the paramount Maori Chief of Ngati Paoa, Tukua TePuhi Te Rauroha, who died in 1906. He was brother to 25 siblings, father of five and three of his sons are master carvers.