As my ideas and concepts started to take shape, I found myself wanting to honour glass within the context of what I had experienced of this new and exciting dynamic. Almost a complete contradiction, the world of glass is one of many extremes, from the intimidating heat and the uncertainty of liquid glass that requires caution and evokes a sense of danger, to the amazing skill base of each practitioner who produces items that mesmerize viewers with intimate treats of impressive optics, an eclectic emulsion of colour, textured surfaces and stunning sculptural forms.
I likened the raw and brutal nature of survival to the dangerous nature of processing glass, juxtaposed with the extreme eloquent beauty through ‘line’ and ‘form’, likened to the alluring nature of glass once it is finished.
It was from this exposure that I rationalised the niho paraoa (whale tooth) series. From the depths, the sperm whale incites intrigue, notably because of its awesome size, which conveys power and commands respect. The whale’s seemingly weightlessness when gliding effortlessly in the little-known universe of the great oceans only adds to the enigma of this mysterious creature.
The elegant shape of the whale tooth appeals to my contemporary sensitivities with its clean lines and pure form. The overwhelming contrast to this piece is the ruthless nature of the whale’s tooth, its function is to tear and rip flesh from limbs; it is able to extinguish life with precise execution. I find this to be a contradiction that is justified by the natural balance it creates.
The tooth form reflects our most basic of needs, that of survival. It is an instrument used to devour and consume. The brutal yet very real concept of survival is an essential element to the cycle of life and death, both playing an equally important role in the balance of nature’s blueprint.
Roi was born and raised in Southland province in the South Island of New Zealand, although his whakapapa (genealogy) is the Te Mahurehure hapu (sub-tribe) from the Hokianga in Northland on the North Island. In 1983, he received a three-year apprenticeship to the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, where he learned to carve with the adze and chisel and graduated with honours. He has carved on four whare whakairo (carved houses), which fuelled his passion for perfecting the technical aspects of his art and led him to learn about the ideology and spiritual aspects of carving.
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